A comprehensive guide to the complex world of modern medicines and nutritional supplements.
In his second book on nutrition and healthy lifestyles, Winter (Pharmacology and Toxicology/Univ. of Buffalo; True Nutrition True Fitness, 1991) takes sharp aim at big pharma and the dietary supplement industry. The elderly are overmedicated, he argues, despite well-documented side effects that can be lethal to already fragile patients. Additionally, he says, too many seniors buy into fabricated promises of “natural” supplements, which are only minimally regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. With meticulous detail, the author discusses the benefits and dangers of some of the most popular drugs marketed today—specifically antipsychotic, anti-depression and anti-anxiety medications—before moving on to analyze a multitude of supplements, including many familiar vitamins. He debunks claims that these supplements can prevent cancer, slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, increase bone density, or generally get one through old age with a spring in one’s step. So what should seniors do? Mostly, Winter says, it comes down to balance and moderation: be informed, and be skeptical. If you have an elderly relative, know what drugs they’re taking and understand their risks. Obtain your nutritional requirements from your diet, he says, not from a bottle of vitamins, and maintain a regular schedule of exercise to raise your heart rate and build muscle strength. There’s a wealth of information in these pages and also many cautions; after all, this is a field in which recommendations regarding treatment or nutritional advice can change with the release of a new research paper. Winter references copious studies and incorporates a good dose of technical material, but his final product is surprisingly readable, conversational, and compassionate. He consistently remains an ardent advocate for the individual, whether he’s discussing the need for opiates for pain relief or poignantly calling for the right to die with dignity: “I look forward to the day when physician-assisted dying will be available to all who desire it,” he says.
A valuable reference tool that will likely be most appreciated by aging baby boomers.