Do you have a list of books you want to read? I have  a lengthy one in the memo section of my Blackberry. Some books I save for a vacation or weekend away, others I never get around to. And there’s a third category that don’t make the list because I purchase them immediately. That’s what happened with A.J. Jacob’s Drop Dead Healthy.
In this book Jacobs, a writer for Esquire goes “on a quest to become as healthy as humanly possible.” After all, as he says, fifty percent of health is determined by behavior. In two years, this New Yorker, husband and father tries everything from barefoot running to raw foodism. However, this is not just an account of all  the things tried, this is entertaining and very informative.
Sit Less
The reason sitting is bad goes beyond the fact that when we’re sitting we’re not doing more active things. Lipase helps muscles absorb fat. When  we sit, we don’t produce lipase so fat can “go off and do naughty things”. Sitting is a problem even for those who go to the gym . Sitters have 64% increased chance of fatal heart disease.  Even standing is better but Jacobs takes it one step further and gets one of my longtime dream items, a treadmill desk. Actually, he gets a treadmill and fashions it into a desk.. He logged many miles writing this book.
Ice, Ice Baby
While some tips are straightforward, as Jacobs says “diet defies reductionism”. In commentary on superfoods, readers are encouraged not to forget about Clark Kent foods apples and oranges are still super. I love advice that doesn’t  take that much to accomplish. How’s this one…ice. Your body expends energy to heat an ice-cold beverage. It’s about 1 calorie for every icy ounce. If you drink 8 glasses a day that’s 70 extra calories burned.   I cranked up our ice machine after reading this. Next, I’m switching to iced tea.
Down with John Harvey Kellogg and the Potato
While most of us know the “whites” such as white bread, white potatoes, white rice aren’t healthy, if you’re like me you put the baked potato in its own category. It’s a whole food, has some fiber, notable potassium, I can clearly make a case for them. One of Jacob’s salient dietary lessons  listed in the appendix includes avoiding potatoes. We are told “the venerable baked potato increases blood sugar nearly as fast as table sugar”
And if there were parts of the book that made me rethink certain things, there was lots of confirmation for health behaviors I support.  Jacobs jovially points to John Harvey Kellogg for causing obesity epidemic. The truth is,  we would all be  better off we’d be without cold cereal. I’ve long been a fan of protein breakfasts and the cereal aisle, with the exception of oatmeal, is probably one to skip.
We Must Floss
As I was reading this book, I had a client come into the office suffering from periodontal disease. She’s a health nut, watches everything she eats but says “with all the things I did I didn’t floss.” Sure enough, Jacobs tackles dental health even checking out a “dental spa”. Flossing can add 6.4 years to your life. And if you need some motivation how about “you need to clean your tooth cracks before thousands types of bacteria migrate into your bloodstream”. For the overachievers reading this, you should floss before brushing. This way you dislodge the bacteria and then brush it away.
BPA Poetry
There’s lots of food information about toxins and germs. After reading, I removed showerheads and cleaned them with wire brush. I also washed my hands the way you’re supposed to wash them versus the quickie version. I  have yet to wash underwear separately from other laundry but I’ll let you surmise why that’s suggested. As for BPA’s in plastic, try this poem “four, five, one, and two/All the rest are bad for you.”
As Jacobs adopts more and more healthy behaviors, he observes himself judging others.  He becomes self-righteous glaring at Europeans smoking Gigantes and correcting people’s eating.  In the course of experimenting Jacobs also lost weight, improved his blood lipids and decreased his body fat. I really enjoyed this book but I would caution reading it if you’re vulnerable to this sort of advice as I am. I am now thinking about my Blackberry and brain cancer, noise pollution and whether I’m harming myself running on the West Side Highway breathing in car fumes (you are more vulnerable to fumes while exercising).  Perhaps I need to reread the chapter on stress.
Do you floss? Drink icy beverages? What health behavior could you focus more on? And what books are high on your reading list?


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