Reviewed by Clare Brook
An author that provides readers with scientific research concerning health and wellbeing and can be simultaneously amusing is clearly a gifted communicator. Dr. Norman Swan has achieved this in his latest book. So you want to Live Younger Longer? is packed with a wide range of material. First off it’s all about balance (homeostasis) the goal being to rebalance towards a youthful profile, tricky but possible, it crops up throughout the book as other issues are discussed – the effects of inequality, government policy (please politicians read this!), eating, pills (promising so much delivering so little apparently), exercise, bugs, bowels and hormones, plastic surgery, the slow-moving cluster (stealth killers), mind and brain (avoid stress like it was the plague) air, and what you can do at your stage of life, all of which is accompanied by funny anecdotes from his student days and his own obsession with food. Plus, Swan gives readers a guide on how to keep their bullshit meter on high alert and keep control of their own health. Advice on diet, it is written for general consumption, consequently does not cater for specific conditions such as eating disorders or addictions.
This can be a ‘pick the section that interests you’ type of book, so no need to be daunted by such an all-encompassing span of material. Thankfully, there is a good index, which, surprisingly, is not always included in other such books. However, once I started reading it was quite difficult to stop, this can be attributed to Swan’s jaunty communication style and the fact that he has a knack of uncomplicating knotty medical research.
The positive message that radiates from its pages is that we can have more control over our health than we thought possible – given that choices made are wise. In the words of Swan: This control thing isn’t some namby-pamby, squishy, lefty idea. There’s hard science behind it. And that’s just it – get the hard science before launching into the latest fad diet/exercise routine. How you live really counts. Regarding diet, Swan reiterates copious research evidence that concludes the Mediterranean Diet is the best way to go. Interestingly, he refers to the Greeks’ way of life, which includes the Mediterranean Diet and their method of slow cooking, but also fasting one hundred days a year. So twice a week. This apparently is part of the Greek Orthodox Church teachings. Exercise is, of course, so vital for health and here Swan really goes to town explaining what, why and how. Personally, I found this to be so motivating. Sleep and stress management also vital. Also, he urges readers to investigate markers such as blood pressure, sugars and fats. Fat facts – all body fat is not equal, yes can you believe it, there is a hierarchy of fat – waist fat apparently is extra toxic.
I loved this book, but impossible to thoroughly review, there is so much vital information packed into it to give readers the capability to live healthier and happier lives. Dr. Norman Swan interprets medical research for readers and makes them laugh at the same time.
By Dr Norman Swan
Paperback: ISBN: 978 073364 834 2
Ebook: ISBN: 978 073364 835 9
Audiobook: ISBN: 978 073364 836 6