New! – A Healthy Living Newsletter
patients frequently ask my opinion about new health books on the market.
And there's certainly no shortage of experts peddling their advice!
While many of these books are excellent, others are written by people
who don't have a clinical background in the subject. Simply put - they're
After reading the title and the list of all the benefits on the cover, I skeptically opened the book and quickly skimmed it. It's not that I don't believe in starting your child's diet off correctly; I just thought the maximizing the IQ and the "metabolic programming" was - well, hokey. I figured it was just a new spin on some old information. However, after reading it, I decided to add it to my book collection for my patients. Why? Because Chapter Two, "Inside Your Child's Head", is the best advice on getting your child(ren) to eat well I have ever seen in print. And the rest of the book isn't bad either.
Let's start with "metabolic programming". It's a scientific-sounding term to restate the obvious - what your child eats in their early years can have a lasting effect on your child's lifetime growth and development. Someone funded studies that figured out that if you feed your child poor quality food, they develop more allergies, have a lower IQ, and seem to get sicker over his lifetime than those children fed well. What then, is a healthy diet? Roberts and Heyman spend the rest of the book answering that question.
But first they cover the most important point in the book - what you say and how you behave about food. Kids learn to love virtually anything that they see their parents enjoy, from ants in some parts of Africa, to raw fish in Japan and snails in France." That's the key - you need to eat healthy for your kids to eat healthy. And just in case you have your list of objections already in hand, Roberts and Heyman have that covered as well. They address the picky eaters, one-food-for-2-weeks eaters, sloooowww eaters, and the 2-year-old eater. The advice is excellent. And even better, they summarize their main points in boxes toward the end of each chapter.
The book starts with breast feeding, moves on to formula, and proceeds to go year by year discussing the various food issues you may reach. This part is a bit tedious, so just skip to the chapter that fits your child's age. Formulas have come a long way in the last 15 years. There are cow milk formulas for allergic babies (they make the protein molecules smaller), iron-formulas, no-iron formulas, lactose-free formulas,etc. Two to 8% of all babies under 1-year-old are allergic to dairy.
One of my favorite sections was on troubleshooting potential food-related problems. Constipation, diarrhea, hyperactivity, sleep problems, obesity, food disorders, and ear-infections. It's a bit frustrating to read that all this information is new as naturopaths have known this for decades. For example, they explain the "recent" understanding of why allergies occur. We naturopaths call it "the leaky gut syndrome" and it has been common knowledge for about 30-40 years. Also, the authors say there is no connection between sugar and hyperactivity. That's news to anyone who has ever seen children before and after a sugar-laden birthday party. Actually, sugar depletes B-vitamins storage in the body. B-vitamins are major components in stabilizing the various systems that affect mood. On a similar vein, the authors suggest custard during a cold. Sugar blocks Vitamin C receptors and adversely affects the immune system. Custard wouldn't be the best thing when your child's immune system is already taxed. Similarly, they feel that there is no scientific support for the use of Echinacea, Vitamin C or zinc. I don't know where they checked, but there are dozens of scientific studies from all over the world supporting these nutrients to boost the immune system. So, the book isn't perfect - but pretty darn close.
But will it work? Absolutely. I've never had any trouble getting my children to eat healthy food. I simply never told them it was healthy. I never told them it was great that they ate healthy - and I never bribed or cajoled them to eat what I placed before them. I gave them a tremendous variety of food and was ok if they said that they didn't want to eat one or two things. My eldest won't eat plain eggs. She told me this at 1&1/2 years old and at 22, she still doesn't eat plain eggs. I told her fine. Who cares - she still eats beans, grains, nuts, veggies, and all sorts of extremely healthy food. One of my sons was picky - for about 2 days. One day, I served a meal, he refused it, didn't have a good reason, and the rest of the family ate his food. He stopped being picky. He still doesn't like raw tomatoes or onions, but we can both live with that. I don't put them in his food. Or I put them in a large enough size that he could pick them out. The point is - my husband and I both like to eat good food that also happens to be healthy. Our obvious enjoyment eating Indian curries, Middle Eastern falafel, hummus and tabouli, or American barbecue encouraged our children to eat correctly.
I heard about this book when a patient emailed me after seeing Dr. Oz on Oprah. The show was on preventing heart disease in women. But after reading the book, I wasn't sure why he was on the show. Sure, he's a cardiac surgeon, but that's about as close as the book got to addressing preventing heart disease in women. So why am I reviewing it? Because it is a terrific book for the millions of people who will undergo heart surgery this year. In the U.S. alone, the number of cardiac surgeries will be close to 6.5 million.
The first few chapters could be confused for an advertisement for the LVAD (left ventricular assist device). Dr. Oz helped develop this remarkable device that supports the weakened heart as the patient waits for a donor heart. But, in the midst of this advertisement is one of the best "play-by-play" of the process of having a damaged heart, getting an LVAD and the subsequent heart transplant surgery. He talks about sawing through the sternum, describes the damaged heart and writes about the recovery. And all of this is done in a most compassionate and gentle way. Really.
Considering just how many people will need some sort of heart surgery in their lifetime, this is an excellent book to understand the process. Too many times people end up in the hospital following a heart attack with no comprehension of what is going on. It's as important to be mentally and emotionally, as well as physically, prepared for the procedure. Which leads me to the second focus of the book - Dr. Oz's journey from straight allopathic surgeon to one that not only acknowledges the legitimacy of complementary medicine, but embraces it for his cardiac patients under his care. He writes, "I'm convinced our generally smug world of modern allopathic medicine - girded by occasional tolerance for other healing approaches - must offer patients a whole menu of complementary therapies "
To illustrate this, he describes case after case of people using complementary therapies ranging from prayer, to massage, to music, to hypnosis, to acupressure, to visualization - and how it helped their outcome. Repeatedly, he stresses that the patient must take an active role in his own healing - and just what this entails. One of my favorite passages was the story of a football coach with a poor prognosis, facing heart surgery. In an effort to help the patient take an active role, Oz asked about his job. The patient walked Oz through the process of preparing for a major football game. Oz turned the tables and helped the patient use the same procedure to prepare for the "major game" of cardiac surgery. Taking an active role in preparing for his surgery changed not only his attitude but his outcome. The man recovered, and went back to coaching.
2002 Dr. Suzanne C. Lawton, LLC