Three books we like: The Omega Principle, How to be Well, and The Dr. Sears T5 Wellness Plan
Summer isn't just for reading romances, mysteries, and thrillers.
Light fiction is great, but so are three recent releases — one that envisions oceans as the future of food and energy, and two books that could better your life in the short and long terms.
We’ll peruse new books by two leading voices in functional/holistic health:
- “Dr. Bill” Sears, M.D. — The renowned pediatrician, anti-aging advocate, and best-selling author presents — in "conversation" with his health/fitness-coach daughter Erin — a lively, creatively Illustrated, seriously user-friendly program.
- Frank Lipman, M.D. — The much admired holistic “doc from down under” describes a comprehensive six-part plan to tackle wellness from all angles, including emotions.
But we’ll start with acclaimed author Paul Greenberg’s truly intriguing look at the health and environmental benefits of shifting from our land-centric food system to one focused as much or more on ocean foods.
The Omega Principle: Seafood and the Quest for a Long Life
by Paul Greenberg
You may know Paul Greenberg from his James Beard Award-winning best seller Four Fish, which leveraged his personal history with salmon, sea bass, cod, and tuna as a lens to view the planet’s valuable, vulnerable wild foods.
Greenberg’s latest book wasn’t — as we’d expected — focused largely on the role of seafood-source omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) in human health.
Instead, Greenberg did something more interesting.
While he takes some deep dives into what he calls the “omega world” of researchers, supplement marketers, and health advocates, he also discovered that omega-3 fish oil is just the latest product of the seafood “reduction” industry.
Over the past 150 years, we've turned mountains of marine life into fertilizer, margarine, dietary supplements — and feed for livestock and farmed salmon.
Most of the exploited species are small “forage” fish like anchovies, herring, and menhaden, as well as crustaceans like shrimp and krill.
Herring and anchovies don’t appeal to most Americans, while menhaden are very difficult to debone, and spoil quickly due to their high omega-3 content.
Still, University of British Columbia researchers recently estimated that some 90% of fishmeal comes from fish suitable for “direct human consumption”. This would provide huge amounts of omega-3-rich protein that would be especially valuable to people — including some Americans — who suffer chronic food insecurity (Cashion T et al. 2/13/17).
And the forage fish targeted by the extraction industry support marine mammals and some of the healthiest, most popular wild species, including salmon, cod, bass, tuna, and halibut.
Greenberg probes the rich and surprising history of omega-3s — from the very beginnings of life in the oceans to human prehistory, when aquatic foods such as snails and shellfish, gathered from rivers and coastlines, may have enabled big leaps in the capacities of our ancestors’ brains. ((See Omega-3 Brain Evolution Theory Gets a Boost and Did Humans Evolve on Fishy Diets?.)
Later, Greenberg reviews the rise of omega-3s as dietary supplements, the debates over their health value as supplements, and — just as importantly — ways in which omega-3-rich algae and other marine life could blaze a healthier, more sustainable future for filling human food needs.
The author ranges from Peru, Antarctica, and the Canary Islands to Italy’s Amalfi Coast, exploring the methods and (mostly negative) impacts of modern food production and diets.
We’re highly familiar with the health and environmental controversies surrounding seafood and omega-3 supplements, and were pleasantly surprised at how well Greenberg covered those topics.
The Omega Principle is a truly engrossing read — one that makes a compelling case for a healthier, more sustainable, ocean-centered food system.
We agree with Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D., author of Pulitzer prize-winner The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer:
“Paul Greenberg’s book ranges widely and with great gusto … this is an important, entertaining, and wonderfully crafted work.”
The Dr. Sears T5 Wellness Plan: 5 Changes in 5 Weeks
by William Sears, M.D., and Erin Sears Basile
“Dr. Bill” Sears has been called “America’s Pediatrician” — and that moniker is well-deserved.
He trained at Harvard’s Children’s Hospital in Boston and The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and has authored more than 40 books on parenting, nutrition, and healthy aging, including many written with his wife Martha Sears, R.N.
Dr. Sears new book is a collaboration with his daughter Erin, who overcame a health crisis and became a certified health coach, yoga teacher, exercise instructor, and cofounder of the Transform 5 healthy living plan.
Their book details a five-step, five-week plan designed to yield a mind-and-body makeover. Importantly, their program is a practical one, based on solid science.
The book’s nine chapters cover diet, exercise, stress-busters, gut health, brain health, and fighting inflammation — and the very helpful final chapter offers answers to common questions.
To help readers put the plan’s exercise and diet advice into practice, the T5 book features appendices that provide strength-building, yoga, and Pilates exercises — all illustrated with photos of Erin in action.
Finally, the book includes 18 recipes for dinners, side dishes, and healthy treats, plus tips for making healthy salads, dressings, and smoothies.
How to Be Well: The 6 Keys to a Happy and Healthy Life
by Frank Lipman, M.D.
Dr. Frank Lipman gained fame as a health advisor to Hollywood celebrities — but we met him at health shows, and found him to be a very warm, unpretentious guy.
After getting a medical degree in his native South Africa, Dr. Lipman spent 18 months working at clinics in the bush, where he became familiar with the local traditional healers — an experience that sparked his interest in alternative healing modalities.
Dr. Lipman came to the U.S. in 1984, and soon became chief medical resident at New York City’s Lincoln Hospital, where acupuncture and Chinese medicine were used to treat heroin and crack addiction — another experience that motivated his interest in non-Western medicine.
These experiences led him to study nutrition, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, herbal medicine, functional medicine, biofeedback, meditation, and yoga, and to then found the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center, where he combines the best of Western medicine and nutrition science with healing techniques from the East.
Later, Dr. Lipman created Be Well, a lifestyle wellness brand and website designed to help people create, sustain and lead healthier lives.
In How to Be Well, Dr. Lipman shares his formula for lifelong vitality, called the Good Medicine Mandala, which provides more than 100 simple steps proven to improve resilience, functioning, and overall health.
As he writes in the introduction, “You are holding in your hands a field guide to being well in an increasingly unwell world. In its pages you won’t find a strict doctrine or diet or Spartan 3-week boot camp for instant transformation. Instead this is a handbook filled with the everyday habits and practices you can deploy to launch a healthy lifestyle ...”.
The book consists of seven parts — the six keys of its subtitle, plus FAQs:
- Eat: master the very building blocks of life—food
- Sleep: reprioritize and restore one of your most fundamental needs
- Move: ensure the body moves in all the ways that nature intended it to
- Protect: mitigate and prevent the invisible assaults of everyday toxins
- Unwind: consciously switch off to allow for complete mental and physiological reprieve
- Connect: awaken and enhance a sense of belonging and meaning
- What to do when: Solutions for common problems and complaints.
Each part features list of tips — for example, the Eat section provides “23 Perfect Plates” — plus colorful illustrations and “callouts” in large type, all designed to make it easy to extract key points.
As Dr. Lipman’s co-author, Amely Greeven, says, “Frank and I felt it was time to shake up the way that health books are done ... we created a comprehensive manual / survival guide to the many diverse habits that we know help us to be well, and let the reader pick how they want to try them — a clean sweep, or one at a time. We also went wild with groovy illustrations, because who said health advice has to be black and white or boring?”
We think they succeeded extremely well in achieving that goal and were not alone, as witnessed by these endorsements from two physicians for whom we have a great deal of respect:
“How to Be Well is the last book you will need to buy if you follow its simple, clear powerful advice on how to create health. Dr. Frank Lipman has condensed 30 years of experience in healing patients using the powerful new model of Functional Medicine into a fun, enlightening, practical guide for being well.”
—Mark Hyman, MD, Director, Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, and #1 NYT bestselling author of Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?
“How to be Well is a tour de force of TRUTH when it comes to taking control of your own health and staying well. Dr. Lipman is my kind of doctor — and both of us know from years of experience that health is not something you find in a doctor’s office. It’s a product of what you think and do every day. Let this book be your guide.”
—Christiane Northrup, MD, NYT bestselling author of Goddesses Never Age