Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF HEALTH by J. Joseph  Speidel Kirkus Star


How To Optimize Wellness With a Lifestyle Checklist

by J. Joseph Speidel

Pub Date: Dec. 26th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-952762-00-0
Publisher: JJ Webster Publishing

A physician offers a research-based guide to good health.

This debut by Speidel, a doctor, professor emeritus, and public health expert, is an all-encompassing manual that focuses on “the science that underlies a health-restoring, health-preserving lifestyle and warns against unproven claims.” In a straightforward, unadulterated manner, the author enumerates the “building blocks” of a healthy lifestyle; he covers virtually every aspect in 16 chapters that range from nutrition and weight control to mental health and the prevention of specific diseases. Speidel begins with a useful “Lifestyle Checklist,” describing the various elements of a healthy lifestyle and including a handy, literal checklist of beneficial behaviors, cross-referenced to the book’s subsequent chapters. Each chapter is remarkably comprehensive in scope and detail, providing a wealth of information as well as extensive references to current scientific studies and relevant sources. A nice touch that puts the guide on a more personal level is the occasional sidebar entitled “My Story,” in which Speidel writes anecdotally about some of his own health-related experiences. One good example of the high quality of the volume’s contents is “Optimal Nutrition,” a chapter so thorough that it could easily have been expanded into a separate book. Here, the author addresses the American diet; basic facts about food and nutrition; the risks associated with sugar, carbohydrates, and fats; cholesterol; types of diets and their positive/negative effects; nutrition labels; organic foods; gluten-free items; and more. Many studies are referenced and footnoted, and a “Summary of the essential facts” is appended to the end of this as well as other chapters. Whether it is material on the prevention of cardiovascular disease, the benefits of physical activity, or a look at environmental pollutants and toxins, Speidel takes the same care in clearly presenting unbiased information. He is painstaking and methodical in his coverage of each topic, backing up any claims with research studies; the author even helpfully includes a final chapter that explains how to understand scientific data. While some readers may find the research references overwhelming, most should welcome their veracity. Also notable: The work’s content is exceedingly current (including a section on Covid-19).

An authoritative, encyclopedic, and illuminating wellness manual.