The Blonde Ethos

A SMART APPROACH TO FIT + HEALTHY LIVING

4 Must-Read Books for Better Health + Nutrition

Health Monitoring, Nutrition + Supplements, ReviewsNatalie Goodchild3 Comments
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The main point I want to make with this article is that the vast majority of the information in these books should be common knowledge.

I can’t stress that enough.

It horrifies me to think that this incredibly valuable information is out there, pretty much for free, and yet some people are never exposed to it.

There are so many people that I speak to on a day-to-day basis who have health concerns, feel mentally or emotionally unsettled, or are doing ridiculous diets in an attempt to lose weight or correct medical issues. I know that they could find themselves on a better path if they could just redirect their efforts into educating themselves. I wish I could afford to gift all of these people with copies of these books!

We learn such complex things across a wide variety of topics as we go through the education system, yet we are never fed the basic information that we require to make fundamental choices about how to live.

What’s worse, the information that we are fed, even by authorities, can be outdated and incorrect. Even when the correct information emerges, it can take so long to be accepted and distributed (through regulatory systems, health care professionals, and even change-resistant members of the public), that it often doesn’t reach us until it’s too late (great examples of this are highlighted in Dr Perlmutter’s books, below). So, I urge you to question things that you are told, do your own research, and listen to your own body.

You may think you know the basics of how to eat and what to do to be ‘healthy’ but chances are, you have been mislead at some point or have simply not been exposed to some crucial nuggets of perspective-shifting information.

So, spend a few pounds and set aside a few hours to read the books below, because you will gain amazing knowledge that might just improve and extend your life.

Side note: my endorsement of these books has not been paid for. I chose to read them out of genuine interest, and have found some of the information in them to play such a pivotal role in my own wellbeing that I feel it’s my duty as a decent human being to advise you to read them too!

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Gut: by Giulia Enders

The inside story of our body's most underrated organ

What’s it about?

In a really simple way, this book explains why your gut is as important as your brain or heart, and it tells you everything that you need to know about how this system of your body works, answering all the questions you might have ever been too embarrassed to ask.

It talks you through the structure of the gut and the role of each of the organs in it, addresses the food you eat, and tackles the issue of allergies and intolerances.

It looks at the nervous system of the gut, outlining why you may suffer from nausea, reflux or 'toilet problems' and even mental and emotional issues - all because of your gut. Finally, the book explores the world of microbes, highlighting the gut's role in your immune system, the roles of bacteria (including how they might make you fat or ill), and giving the lowdown on antibiotics, probiotics and prebiotics.

Who wrote it

The author, Giulia Enders, is a German Scientist whose aim with this book was to “communicate the information that scientists bury in their academic publications or discuss behind closed doors at scientific meetings, while ordinary people are out there searching for answers” because “we can use this new knowledge to improve our daily lives”.

Spot on.

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Why I like it so much + recommend it so highly

I’ve raved about this book before. If you’re on my mailing list, you will already know how highly I recommend it (if you’re not on my mailing list, sign up in the sidebar!), and I even included it in a massive round-up of the products that changed my health and fitness journey.

Essentially, I love it because it’s It’s a really comprehensive and easy-to-digest (pun intended) guide to your body and your health, complete with quirky little illustrations. Whether you want to just arm yourself with basic knowledge, or pave the way for further reading on the topics, this book should 100% be on your bookshelf.

One of the many awesome things that you’ll learn from reading this book

Many studies that have taken place on germ-free mice (mice born into germ-free conditions so as to control their microbiota) help to demonstrate the power of your gut’s microbiome.

“Feeding them with cocktails of bacteria taken from other mice produces astonishing results. If they are given bacteria from mice with type 2 diabetes, they soon begin to develop problems metabolising sugar. If bacteria from obese humans are fed to germ-free mice, they are more likely to gain weight than if they receive bacteria from people in the normal weight range.”

This, in essence, is because your microbiota does more than you may think. Bacteria help to produce hormones, vitamins, and digest your food. If they’re out of balance, the consequences can be severe...

Where can you get your hands on it ASAP?

Gut is available on Amazon. The RRP is £9.99, but at time of writing, it was available for just £6.99. A miniscule investment for a whole lot of knowledge!

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Grain Brain by Dr David Perlmutter

The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar - Your Brain's Silent Killers

What’s it about?

As the title of the book hints, gluten and carbs are destroying your brain. And not just unhealthy carbs, but even healthy ones like whole grains can cause dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches, depression, and much more.

But this book isn’t limited to talking about grain. It also explains in depth why your brain thrives on fat and cholesterol, why turning on your body’s antioxidant pathways is more effective than consuming antioxidants, and tackles the issue of sugar consumption.

Ultimately, this book is designed to challenge our way of thinking about health and nutrition.

If you think you might have a sensitivity to any grain, this book might help you. And if you are one of the people misunderstanding and hating on the current gluten-free movement, open your mind and read this book.

“Gluten sensitivity - with or without the presence of celiac - increases the production of inflammatory cytokines, and these inflammatory cytokines are pivotal players in neurodegenerative conditions.”

And in terms of your brain, the book encourages you to think differently too…

“We are designed to be smart people our entire lives. The brain is supposed to work well until our last breath. But most of us assume, wrongly, that with ages comes cognitive decline. We think it’s an inevitable part of aging, much like hearing loss or wrinkles. This impression is a pernicious fallacy. The truth is we’re living a life that’s not suited to what we’re genetically supposed to do.”

Following a really inspiring introduction and a useful self-assessment, the book is split into three parts, beginning with addressing various aspects of nutrition and health conditions, and ultimately providing lifestyle recommendations, meal plans and recipes to help you take control of your wellbeing.

Who wrote it?

Dr Perlmutter is a is a Board-Certified Neurologist and Fellow of the American College of Nutrition, the only practitioner in the US with both credentials.

As he explains in the book, his cross-discipline credentials are really important because it enables his unique perspective on the relationship between how you eat and how your brain functions.

He explains, “neurologists are trained to focus on what goes on in the nervous system, and specifically the brain, in a myopic [short-sighted] way… This perspective is grossly out of touch with the current science.’

What’s also really amazing is how simply Dr Perlmutter’s ideas are conveyed. This is in part due to help from Kristin Loberg, who specializes in transforming experts' knowledge and ideas into reader-friendly works for general audiences.

Ultimately, while this book can at points be scientifically complex, everything is explained really well and Dr Perlmutter really sympathises with the frustration that you are likely experiencing with the confused messages about nutrition that are out there.

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Why I like it so much + recommend it so highly

Firstly, I love that Dr Perlmutter speaks many truths about our society’s problems. Here’s just one:

“Most of us believe that we can live our lives how we choose, and then when medical problems arise, we can turn to our doctors for a quick fix in the form of the latest and greatest pill. This convenient scenario fosters and illness-centered approach on the part of the physicians as they play their role as the purveyors of pills. But this approach is tragically flawed on two counts. First, it is focused on illness, not wellness. Second, the treatments themselves are often fraught with dangerous consequences.”

Secondly, I love that this book begins with a self-assessment, helping you to engage with the content and gauge your risk for some of the ailments that are discussed in the book. Dr Perlmutter also makes recommendations of what health tests you could take to get your risk factors identified by lab work. You know I love this kind of geekery...

Thirdly, I love that, as a practicing doctor, David Perlmutter is able to incorporate a lot of inspiring patient case studies in the book. They bring the concepts discussed to life in a really moving and convincing way.

One of the many awesome things that you’ll learn from reading this book

Low cholesterol foods could be damaging. In fact, cholesterol has a protective effect on the brain and plays other vital roles in your health.

Dr Perlmutter includes a statement from a researcher with the famous Framingham Heart Study:
“The diet heart hypothesis suggests that a high intake of fat or cholesterol cause heart disease has been repeatedly shown to be wrong, and yet, for complicated reasons of pride, profit, and prejudice, the hypothesis continues to be exploited by scientists, fund-raising enterprises, food companies and even governmental agencies. The public is being deceived by the biggest health scam of the century.”

Where can you get your hands on it ASAP?

Grain Brain is available on Amazon. The RRP is £14.99.

Being such a lover of this book, I also got my hands on the Grain Brain Cookbook, which contains a useful intro to the Grain Brain concept as well as around 150 recipes that adhere to Dr Perlmutter’s nutrition recommendations.

I’m excited to see that The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan is due for release later this year too!

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Brain Maker by Dr David Perlmutter

The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain - for Life

What’s it about?

Debilitating brain disorders are on the rise - from children diagnosed with autism and ADHD to adults developing dementia at younger ages than ever before, and hundreds of millions of pounds are being spent on them in medical costs and research, yet we are seeing little progress.

However, “new, leading-edge science coming from the most well-respected institutions around the world is discovering that to an extraordinary degree, brain health and, on the flip side, brain diseases, are dictated by what goes on in the gut.”

This book explains the connection between intestinal microbes and the brain, describing how the microbiome develops from birth and evolves based on the environment, how it can become 'sick', and how nurturing gut health through a few easy strategies can alter your brain's destiny for the better.

Who wrote it?

This is another brilliant read by Dr David Perlmutter, who wrote Grain Brain (above).

It's worth checking out some of Dr Perlmutter's podcast appearances too, such as this epidsode on the Bulletproof podcast.

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Why I like it so much + recommend it so highly

Dr Perlmutter highlights many commonplace conditions as being epidemics. The word epidemic is something I associate with apocalyptic movies about quick, widespread infections. But this book brings light to the fact that conditions like autism have surged so dramatically that they genuinely are considered a ‘modern-day epidemic’. In this way, the book is really perspective-changing.

More importantly though, this book doesn’t just present the problems, it aims to be the solution. And the best bit is that the solution is really logical and simple.

Like Grain Brain, the book also starts with a totally hooking introduction to the importance of the information it contains, and a ‘gut check’: a few simple questions to help you “understand which experiences in your life - from your birth to today - may have impacted the health of your gut”.

One of the many awesome things that you’ll learn from reading this book

Short-chain fatty acids are created by gut bacteria when they process the dietary fibre that we eat. There are three main types: acetic, propionic and butyric.

Butyric is a primary energy source for colonic cells and has anti-inflammatory as well as anti-carcinogenic properties. However, propionic acid, produced by different type of bacteria (which are more prevalent in people with brain conditions like autism) can pass into the bloodstream, where it is toxic to the brain.

This definitely highlights the importance of keeping your gut microbes in check!

Where can you get your hands on it ASAP?

I got my hands on Brain Maker on Amazon. The RRP is £13.99 but at the time of writing this, it’s a bargain at under £10!

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Missing Microbes by Martin Blaser

How Killing Bacteria Creates Modern Plagues

What’s it about?

Like the books I’ve already mentioned, Missing Microbes is about your body’s microbes. However, unlike those by Dr Perlmutter which focus a lot on the foods we consume, this book talks about other significant ways that your microbiome is being irrevocably destroyed. Mainly it addresses how wonder drugs - antibiotics - are the culprits. They’ve been linked with epidemics of asthma, eczema, obesity, certain cancers and many other diseases.

The World Health Organisation’s first global report on antibiotic resistance reveals that "this serious threat is no longer a prediction for the future, it is happening right now in every region of the world and has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country". We are on the cusp of a ‘post-antibiotic era’. The UK’s Chief Medical Officer has even stated antibiotic resistance ‘as big a risk as terrorism’.

But beyond antibiotics, the book also gives insight into things like the risks of C-sections and other drugs on long-term health.

Missing Microbes perfectly communicates this message that we can no longer afford to ignore.

Who wrote it?

Dr Martin Blaser has studied the role of bacteria in human disease for over 30 years.

A lot of his work has focused on a bacterium called Helicobacter Pylori and its relationship with disease, so it is often mentioned within various discussions in Missing Microbes.

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Why I like it so much + recommend it so highly

I confess, it was probably around a year ago that I last read this book in full, but it was the first book I read on the topic of the microbiome and it is probably what drew me into the fascinating world of gut health.

I’m particularly passionate about this book and people knowing that antibiotic resistance is a scary problem, because I have Cystic Fibrosis and I battle for my health every single day against heavily antibiotic-resistant bugs in my lungs. I understand the problem first-hand, but I don’t think that our society realises this is a serious issue.

For example, I recently struggled with a bit of a skin breakout. When talking to some friends about it, the number of suggestions that I ‘just get antibiotics or something for it’ was honestly alarming. Read this book if you don’t understand why this is a damaging mentality towards antibiotics.

In the meantime, read the Anibiotic Resistance fact sheet from the World Health Organisation

One of the many awesome things that you’ll learn from reading this book

Cesarean delivery is a largely unrecognised threat; it deprives babies of important contact with their mother’s protective microbes.

Research shows that babies born by C-section are colonised by different bacterial species than those born naturally; bacteria not selected by hundred of thousands of years of human evolution or even longer. This can lead to an increased risk of becoming obese, and developing coeliac disease, asthma, allergies...

I know both midwives and parents whose children were born by C-section who are totally in the dark about this, and this needs to be rectified. Dr Blaser even suggests the informed consent form women sign before this procedure should state the above risks to the child.

Where can you get your hands on it ASAP?

As with all the other books on this list, you can grab Missing Microbes from Amazon where it’s priced at £8.99.

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Summary

To be honest, this is one of the most difficult articles I’ve ever written. Doing these books justice while trying to distill down the incredible wealth of information that they contain to a series of short blurbs seemed impossible. Some sections of these books were so interesting and valuable that I wish I could have scanned entire pages of text and pasted them into this piece. I’m so desperate to know that this information is being shared and that other people will experience the fascination that I did while learning. But, unfortunately you’ll have to get your hands on the book yourself. It’ll be so worth it. I promise.

A recurring theme through all of these books is that of gut health and our microbiomes; a reflection of the vast amount of research emerging on the topic. If there’s one thing you need to know, it’s that almost all health issues can be improved by giving your gut a little love. A few forward-thinker in their fields have suspected this for a while, and thankfully now this information is reaching the masses and setting in motion a revolution in healthcare and wellbeing.

Signing off with one of my favourite quotes from Dr Perlmutter…
“After lectures, People frequently approach me to say thanks for thinking outside the box. With all due respect, that’s not the point. It does the world no good for me to be seen as someone whose ideas are “outside the box”. My mission is to make the box bigger so that these ideas are part of our culture and way of living. Only then will we be able to make serious, meaningful headway with our modern afflictions.”

Start making your box bigger.

Have you read any of these? Are there any other healthy must-reads that you think I should check out?

Comment below, tweet me, or drop me a note on Facebook to let me know!