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What’s New! – A Healthy Living Newsletter

May, 2001

My 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 inaccurate.

The people writing the books either don't regularly use the medicines they write about or they're presenting theories as if they are facts. Others can be valuable tools for improving the quality of your life.

Eating Well for Optimum Health
The Essential Guide to Food, Diet, and Nutrition
By Andrew Weil

I usually don't like Essential Guides. These books generally promise a whole lot and don't deliver. So, when I read this title, I sighed. After having recently read low-fat, no-fat, low carbohydrate, no-carbohydrate, high-protein, low-protein diets that were all written by well-credentialed authors, I thought "ok, one more expert who feels his dietary conclusions are the last word in nutritional health." Instead, I began reading one person's understanding of health and guidelines, not mandates, on how to become healthier.

Many of you know the Weil philosophy, but for those of you who don't:

  • Food should taste good and be good for you.
  • Stick loosely to a low-fat, high-fiber, lacto-pesco(fish)-vegetarian diet that doesn't preclude you sitting down to an occasional steak and ale with friends.
  • Eat organic and unprocessed foods (Food you have to cook yourself.)
  • Read labels

It's basic and to the point. When you eat a healthy diet, you get many powerful phytochemical nutrients directly from the food - and in a much more absorbable, and less expensive, form than from a pill. But, just in case you want some support for his suggestions, Dr. Weil fills 250 pages out of the 260-page book with supportive theories and medical literature. My favorite part of the book was the case studies. He shows how modifying a diet can decrease or resolve medical conditions like asthma, allergies, sinusitis and IBD (irritable bowel disease). In reality, it's not as easy as he makes it look. Changing the diet is critical, but it's not the whole picture in healing these conditions.

In his book, Weil covers fish farms vs. natural catch, food coloring, essential fatty acids, meat additives, current fad diets, soy and dairy pros and cons, sugars in all their various forms including the Glycemic Index, and the fundamentals of protein, carbohydrates and fat in the diet. And, he is thorough. Did you know that white pasta is better for you than white bread?

While I agreed with about 95% of all he had to say, I strongly disagreed with his opinion about sugar. He feels it is not problematic - or at least, no more so than simple carbohydrates. He overlooked the medical research showing that sugar feeds cancer.

If you want a detailed explanation about what to eat, then this is the book to read. Weil cares deeply about food, and it shows.

Doctor Mom's Quick Reference Guide to Natural Healthcare at Home
By Kathy Duerr

What day of the week do kids get sick? Friday - right after the pediatrician's office closes. This is when you will be grateful for Kathy Duerr and her slender 60-page book, Doctor Mom. Written by a mom with a gift for healing, this book offers simple natural choices for common medical conditions like colic, colds, diarrhea, earaches, etc. And while it is not meant to take the place of a physician, it can sure give a new (or experienced) mom confidence when one or more of her children isn't feeling well.

Simply written, Doctor Mom invites the new mom to try herbal teas, homeopathic remedies and ingredients around the kitchen for help her baby get through an illness. For instance, baking soda is a great pain reliever for bee stings; olive oil may decrease your child's cradle cap.

In addition to giving suggestions on how to treat the various conditions, Duerr also tells you how to build a natural medicine chest so that you are prepared when you child is ill. I love the fact she includes a rocking chair and music tapes of children's lullabies to the list.

Be prepared, Kathy Duerr's message of breastfeeding, avoiding antibiotics, circumcision and reconsidering immunizations comes out loud and clear. But regardless of where you stand on these issues, this book will be extremely helpful.

Senior's Guide to PAIN-FREE LIVING
All-Natural Drug-Free Relief for Everything That Hurts
By Doug Dollemore and Prevention

I found this book on one of those discount tables at Borders. I still can't figure out why this gem was marked down. The Seniors Guide to Pain-Free Living is full of practical ways to treat all sorts of painful common ailments. And don't let the title fool you - bursitis, tendonitis, muscle pain, TMJ, etc. aren't the exclusive domain of seniors.

There are several excellent features to this book besides the pain-alleviating recommendations. One is how to talk about pain effectively to your physician. Saying "it hurts!" doesn't relay enough information about the nature of the pain. Pain comes in many varieties: shooting, stabbing, aching, throbbing, sharp, dull, burning, cramping etc.. These give the physician a better idea of what may be causing the pain.

Another valuable feature of this book is how it incorporates naturopathy, conventional medicine and acupuncture in its options on how to treat pain. This way the reader can pick and chose what method seems right for him whether it be vitamin injections, herbs, homeopathic remedies, vitamin and mineral supplementation, acupuncture, exercise or relaxation techniques.

And yes, as its title suggests, Seniors Guide to Pain-Free Living does include medical problems that more often affect seniors like angina, osteoporosis, prostate pain, shingles, post-surgical pain and cancer pain.

Is this book the answer to all your medical problems? No, it's pretty basic and won't replace a physician whether naturopathic or conventional, but it's an excellent reference book to own or take out of the library for suggestions to decrease discomfort during short-term painful conditions.

Health Tip: If you are trying to lose weight, don't load up on the fat free cookies and crackers. When we eat more carbohydrates than our body needs, the extra carbohydrates are stored as fats. So, eating a half or whole box of fat-free cookies or even of pretzels, can cause weight gain.

Herb Tip: The next time you are at the supermarket, look over the fresh herbs. Not only do they make your food taste better, but they help your health. Basil helps settle the nerves; garlic fights viruses and bacteria; ginger is anti-inflammatory for aching joints and parsley with its chlorophyll content has traditionally been used as an internal deodorizer which means it neutralizes the potent odor of the garlic.

Copyright 2001 Dr. Suzanne C. Lawton, LLC


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Dr. Suzanne C. Lawton
11825 SW Greenburg Road, Suite A2
Tigard, OR 97223