A commonsensical guide to help keep your brain in fighting trim.

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THE ALZHEIMER'S PREVENTION PROGRAM

KEEP YOUR BRAIN HEALTHY FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE

Small (Director/UCLA Longevity Center and freelance writer Vorgan (co-authors: The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head, 2010, etc.) introduce elements of a program to optimize brain health.

The authors begin with a general introduction to our current understanding of Alzheimer’s, including the possible roles played by amyloid plaques (waxy protein fragments) and tau tangles (twisted fibers), as well as other proteins, inflammation and oxidation. Though much of Alzheimer’s is an uncharted landscape, it does appear that genetic considerations play a role only one-third of the time, leaving two-thirds to nongenetic factors. Thus enters the authors’ plan to maintain a healthy brain as a preventative measure (and not only for Alzheimer’s but other dementias). In a clear, prudent voice, Small and Vorgan present the components of their program—“Physical exercise, a nutritious diet, mental stimulation, and stress reduction have their greatest impact when people combine these strategies and continue them for several years”—and delve deeply into each one, tendering anecdotal evidence and the results from experimental studies. They proceed with self-assessment questionnaires of both subjective and objective perspectives and give concrete advice—brain teasers, exercise programs, memory-strengthening skills, nutritional guidelines—on how to build the components into your life. Finally, they offer a step-by-step, seven-day regimen during which, they suggest, “you will begin to notice changes.” The program blends action with moderation, and the authors note that you tinker with the program—a helpful note especially in relation to the food recommendations, which are lackluster at best.

A commonsensical guide to help keep your brain in fighting trim.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7611-6526-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

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.

WHY WE SWIM

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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