An intensely, deeply argued recasting of what it means to be healthy that may pose difficulties for patients but provides...

Quantitative Medicine


An ambitious book presents a revolutionary approach to fitness, diet, and exercise.

This volume seeks to reimagine medicine in an attempt to emphasize a preventive patient strategy that can combat degenerative, chronic disease and prolong life. Ever the iconoclasts, Nichols (Eat Real Food Or Else, 2016), a medical innovator, and his patient, Davis, a Stanford-educated engineer, provide an argument that debunks many popular medical myths that have led people who seek a healthy lifestyle astray. Eating whole grains, avoiding fats, going for long-distance runs— the authors attack these and other commonly held presumptions about how to promote and maintain wellness with lucidity and vigor. The hypothalamus, the body’s “master regulator” of the key physiological processes that govern health, acts as if humans still lived as hunter-gatherers seeking to enhance their survival. This accounts for why some people who do extended aerobic exercise actually gain weight. The hypothalamus thinks the body needs to store fats to meet the demands of these long periods of physical stress. “The agricultural revolution had the net effect of pushing our hypothalamus out of its normal equilibrium, and into a place where it could no longer regulate and operate properly,” the authors argue. Consumption of starches, even whole grains, has messed up humans. To understand how the hypothalamus, and consequently lipids (fats), sugars, and other nutrients, functions, the patient must order tests outside the current regime permitted by health insurance companies and physicians. The authors encourage patients to join forces with their doctors to explain and engage the rather elaborate health strategies that they advocate. Written in a clear, straightforward manner, the book still features an argumentative edge, and why not? Nichols and Davis take on many false medical saws with an enthusiasm and thoroughness that provide strong scientific evidence for their discussion. The convincing book also displays a number of cartoon drawings and sidebars that attempt to lighten the load. Would that all patients had a Dr. Mike in their corners.

An intensely, deeply argued recasting of what it means to be healthy that may pose difficulties for patients but provides solid evidence for effective prevention strategies. 

Pub Date: March 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9862520-0-6

Page Count: 440

Publisher: Golden Lotus

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...


A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.


A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.

For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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