Clean living improves the odds for a long life, according to this fascinating primer on the medical realities of aging.
Cortvriendt, a physician, focuses on the nutritional and lifestyle factors that affect our susceptibility to cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. Front and center is his detailed, wonderfully lucid discussion of food, which takes readers from the basic chemistries of carbohydrates, fats and proteins and their metabolism in the body through the subtle and often strange complexities of dieting. (Excess carbohydrates are bad, but an Atkins-style ban will do much more harm than good, he writes.) He provides a skeptical take on vitamin and antioxidant supplements; vitamins A and E, he writes, have been found to actually increase cancer risks at high doses. He balances this with the seemingly miraculous assertion that eating dark chocolate protects against cancer, diabetes and other ailments; tobacco is anathema, alcohol tolerable and coffee a downright boon, he says. However, Cortvriendt advises that what we do is as important as what we ingest and that there’s no end to the benefits of exercise, which wards off hypertension, dementia and other ills. Basking in sunlight may perk you up, the author says, but it can also give you cancer or make you look old. The book also advises that seething Type A personalities should learn to relax and meditate. There are facts, figures and charts galore, but the author presents the information in simple, straightforward prose that laypeople will understand, while paying due attention to complexities; for example, he explains the pitfalls of deriving reliable conclusions from a muddle of medical statistics and offers shrewd, evenhanded assessments of the conflicting evidence surrounding medical controversies. The result is an absorbing, highly readable exposition of the science of health that yields a wealth of common-sense advice.
An engaging self-help book that offers a clear road map for extending one’s life span.