Thursday, April 22, 2010

Review: YOU: The Owner's Manual

YOU: The Owner's Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger was on sale in the Kindle store for $2, and I read the excerpt and liked it, so I bought it and devoured it over the course of a week. It's miles better than the previous health book I read.

The book considers the various pieces in your body that are vital to on-going health. Much likethe Nintendo game Brain Age, the book takes the view that you have a RealAge, which may or may not correspond to your calendar age. Everyone knows that a car that receives routine maintenance and oil changes will last much longer than a car that's been abused and not been maintained.

A lot of emphasis is on things that you can do. For instance, the authors explain why your stool is brown, and then tell you what's going on if your stool is of a different color, as well as what happens if there's blood in your stool. There's even an FAQ at the end of the book, covering questions readers have sent in for the earlier edition of the book.

Now, nearly every health book covers diet and exercise, but this book really does the right things. For instance, it recommends 3 sessions of 10 minutes of weight lifting a week, since that's apparently enough to provide good health. The book discourages you from running a marathon, since that's bad for your joints. In fact, exercising too much is considered bad as well, because of the increased in oxidation. This is in fact documented, but of course, some of us like traveling too much to give it up.

The book also covers diet, and even goes as far as to provide a comprehensive diet plan, complete with recipes, how to choose how much to eat, right down to how you snack and when you snack. This is very impressive: the entire book is a one-stop shop. If you can't be bothered to read any other book on health, this will do you very nicely. All the latest research is in this book as well, including the studies on aerobic exercise improving intelligence.

The only criticism I have on this book is that sometimes, the writing tries to be too clever by half. The analogies and references to popular culture, celebrities, and so forth feel a bit forced, as though the geek doctor in them was trying to be cool. Similarly, the chapters all start with a series of myths that the doctors then debunk. The problem is, by the end of the chapter, most people will remember the myths, rather than remembering the debunking.

Nevertheless, these criticisms are minor compared to how good the book is. Highly recommended. This is a book actually worth owning and referring to, rather than just checking out from the library.
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