on January 7, 2007
At one time, I was a research scientist who studied both biochemistry and physiology in graduate school. Now, I work in the psychology area with an emphasis on integrating psychology, the world's wisdom traditions and the mind-body connection. I am well read in a variety of subject areas, I read ravenously in general and I've reviewed a lot of books on Amazon. Therefore, when I say this is a GREAT book and that I had difficulty putting it down, this is not faint praise. I actually do believe this should be a bestseller!
The core of this book is the study of four cultures who have a history of producing long-lived people. Specifically, it looks at the Abkhasia of the Caucasus, the Vilcabamba or Ecuador, the Hunza and the centenarians of Japan. It also discusses the China Study in some detail, which was the largest anti-cancer provention study ever undertaken. In short, the books discusses what these cultures have in common and provides informed opinions about the reasons they experience such long longetivity.
The whole book is punctuated by interesting facts by authoratative individuals, organizations and other studies. This lends credibiility to the author's argument for eating more whole grains, less calories, increasing the consumption of vegetables and fruits, going organic and leading an activity life that includes walking, regular exercise of other types and meaningful relationships.
One of the more beautiful and poignant premises of the book is that ALL of the cultures mentioned above revere older members of the society and a positive attitude toward aging that is lacking in our society. Mr. Robbins also repeatedly mentions the importance of close relationships and leading a meaningful life. In fact, he cites some sources that suggest that is a more determenent of health that even smoking and other bad habits.
What makes this book especially good is that it compares and contrasts our cultures values, attitudes toward the aged, perspectives on aging and dietary habits with other cultures where senility, heart disease and lingering chronic illness is virtually absent. It makes a strong argument for a vegetarian or near vegeterian diet, but not in a dogmatic way that is offensive. I also think it is a social useful commentary because it asks the right questions about whether we are caring for, honoring and fully leveraging all the valuable things that older people have to offer. In fact, he directly points a finger at how Western culture often disowns and disempowers older individuals and gives examples of this from the media, movies, etc. In our society, it isn't OK to age and seems to have an affect on how we age.
I have read a number of books on aging and the aging brain by some recognized authorities in the field and what seems to be emerging from their work is that we tend to age in the way we expect to age. It also appears that healthy relationships are a KEY component to aging gracefully, which is directly in opposition to current culture trends of increasing isolation, compartmentalization, etc.
Parts 2, 3, 4 and 5 focus on the following areas: 1) Food; 2) The Body-Mind Connection; 3) The importance of love; and 4) the Human Spirit. These sections take the concepts that were developed in section one and look at the larger implications to the society and individual living within it.
If you are looking for a credible book on aging gracefully with dignity, hope and a chance for a healthy life, you will enjoy this. If you are interested in the influence of culture and beliefs on health, you will find this book an indispensable and informative read. I wholeheartedly recommend this fine and credible book to anyone looking to understand how we age, how we can maintain our health throughout the aging process and the cultural forces that keep us stuck in unhealthy patterns.
OVERALL: A must read for all homo sapiens who want to live a happy life, not just a healthy one.
* Quite rational and measured. Robbins constantly tempers his enthusiasm for the four healthy cultures he examines. He refrains from idealizing them, which strengthens his argument. He doesn't gush over their way of life and points out their shortcomings (e.g., lack of refrigeration, dirt floors, poor telecommunications, etc...).
* Adds two components that he didn't mention much in his previous books: exercise and love. He's always focused on diet, but now he spends more time talking about the importance of exercise and creating a loving community.
* He's less dogmatic about being a vegan. He admits that the longest lived people in the world (the Okinawans) eat fish regularly. His concerns are how fish have more mercury than ever and that we've over-fished our waters.
* Well researched and documented. As usual, Robbins cites his sources for those who want to dig deeper. He's professional.
CON: His argument that the gaps between rich and poor is the predictor of a nation's health is weak. I would have liked to see more evidence of that.
CONCLUSION: I love this book and recommend it to anyone. I've read 3 of his books and this is the best so far. It's balanced and persuasive. He's matured and become quite wise.
on September 23, 2006
I laughed when I read the editorial review from Booklist, that begins with the words: "Robbins has moved on from his career as a successful ice-cream manufacturer..." Obviously, that reviewer hasn't actually read Healthy at 100.
I have, however, and I am exceedingly grateful for all I've learned, and even more for the experiences I have had while reading, and as a result of reading, this extraordinary book. In the days since I finished it, I've felt uplifted in every cell of my body. I also shared it with an older friend, who read it. She then gathered her children, friends, and grandchildren around her so that we could talk together about aging. My friend spoke of what she is grateful for in my life, and all that she is looking forward to in her later years. We talked about our images of aging, where they come from, and whether or not they serve our optimum health potential. None of this would have happened without Robbins' fabulous new book.
Prior to reading Healthy at 100, like most Americans I had adopted a pretty negative view of aging. But as a result of the exquisite blend of heartful wisdom and rational clarity in Robbins' superbly written book, I now have a positive and beautiful vision of what my wisdom years can entail, and the steps I can take not only to live long but to live well. He describes exactly the steps we can take not only to increase our life spans, but also to increase our health spans.
I have read a great number of books on health and healing, on diet and exercise, and on the healing powers of love and positive attitudes. I've never read a book as full of truth, as deeply grounded in the joys and struggles of life, as real and authentic, as Healthy at 100. And I've never read a book ultimately as hopeful, as genuinely uplifting, as honoring of who we are and who we can be.
Robbins has written many outstanding best-sellers before, but this may well be his best ever. If you want to read a mature writer at the culmination of his craft, get Healthy at 100. If you want to live a healthier life, more centered in your optimum health potential, and more in touch with what really gives you life, read this book. I am going to buy copies for everyone I know who is aging, and I don't mean just the older people in my life. As Robbins points out, aging doesn't begin at 65. We are all aging, every day, and this is the book for those who want to do it well, who want each stage of their life to be fulfilling, creative and vital.
Dean Ornish calls this book "a masterpiece." Marianne Williamson calls Robbins "one of the most important voices in America today." I couldn't agree more.
on October 8, 2006
I'm not quite sure what I expected, but since I'm only 37 years old, I didn't expect to be completely blown away. But I was. The book is a thorough look not just at aging, but at living--at how to live a life filled with joy.
I could not agree more with Dr. Dean Ornish, who writes on the book jacket: "If you are interested in extending your health span as well as your life span, read this book! Healthy at 100 is a masterpiece."
on March 30, 2008
This is a great book which reviews four cultures which achieved health at old age. But it goes beyond the historical perspective and cites recent studies which support the lifestyle and dietary approach of these four cultures.
The book led me to read other books which support this mostly vegetarian, whole grain approach to achieving good health as one ages. I was led to The Spectrum by Dean Ornish, The China Study by Colin Campbell, and Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell Esselstyn. They are all excellent books. But having read Healthy at 100 first they had much more meaning to me.
I was motivated to try the Esselstyn program even though I am in very good health at age 72. And without even trying I have lost 10 pounds in three weeks. This was not a real objective of the trial, but it is a nice side benefit. I was not overweight, but feel that my new weight is what I would like to maintain. I was also impressed with how easy it was for me to adjust to the vegetarian diet, although I tried to avoid eating a lot of meat before.
I was also motivated to try the vegetarian approach by the high percentage of people whose first sign that they have heart disease is the incident that causes their death. I also was impressed to learn that the four cultures discussed in the book also significantly avoided many other diseases that we have come to think are a natural part of aging.
on September 18, 2006
Mostly we hear about getting old as something to be avoided at all cost. At last, here is a book that explores aging in a healthy and natural way, where we see intimately into the lives of people who experience aging as an exchange: of wisdom for innocence, valued experience for muscle tone. John Robbins has done the rigorous research to reveal what cultural practices and personal beliefs enable people to thrive long into their lives. His findings offer new insights and information that we can apply immediately in our own lives, and confirms our deepest inner knowing: that more than anything, love is the most important factor. This book is a gift for anyone at any age.
on March 30, 2007
"It's not just a matter of playing the genetic cards you're dealt. We have the power to shape our own lives. The reality is a much more optimistic scenario than if it were just a matter of picking the right parents."
The above quotation is found at the beginning of one of the chapters of this extraordinary book by John Robbins who is widely considered one of the world's leading experts on the dietary link between the environment & health and the author of the phenomenal best seller "Diet for a New America." (By the way, the above quotation was not said by Robbins but by a professor at the Harvard Medical School.)
What is the purpose of this book? Robbins explains:
(1) "I have written [this book] because I have seen too many people grow old in agony and bitterness while others grow old with vitality and beauty, and I know it is possible to age with far more vigor, happiness, and inner peace than is the norm in the Western world today."
(2) "Reading this book will not only help you add many years to your life, but also help make those added years--and indeed all your remaining years--ones in which to experience the blossoming of your finest and wisest self."
(3) "Even if you've eaten poorly and have not taken good care of yourself, even if you've had more than your fair share of hardships and pain, this book will show you how the choices you make today and tomorrow can greatly improve your prospects for the future. It will give you a chance to right any wrongs you've committed against your body. You will see how to regain the strength and passion for life that you may have thought were gone forever."
(4) "I believe you'll find in these pages what you need in order to regenerate than degenerate as the years unfold. This book will show you how to retain more mental clarity, physical strength, stamina, and joy."
(5) "I have written [this book] to offer you ways to enhance and improve both the quality and quantity of your remaining years...Here are practices you can start today in order to live with greater health and joy NO MATTER WHAT YOUR AGE."
(6) "I have written [this book] so that you can learn how to make each and every one of the years of your life more full of vitality and joy, and more worth living, than you may ever have imagined."
How can any book promise such things? What Robbins does in the first part of his book is to examine the lifestyles of those cultures that are known to have some of the world's healthiest, oldest people. He then analyzes the latest breakthroughs in medicine. The knowledge gained from these two sources is revealed in the book's remaining parts. The result is an easy-to-read, inspirational book that will enable us to live long and joyous lives.
The practical steps of what you can do right now to dramatically (at any age) increase your life span and your health span are found in the "Steps You Can Take" sections (found at the end of each of the book's parts).
Finally, to give the potential reader an idea of the contents of this book, I will give below the exact subtitles of each part's chapters:
(1) Where people are healthier at ninety than most of us are at middle age (2) Where heart disease and dementia do not exist (3) Where cancer, diabetes, and asthma are unknown (4) Where most people live to 100 than anywhere else in the world
(5) What is the optimum diet for human beings? (6) The price we pay for processed food (7) Why a plant-based diet can save your life (8) What you need to know to thrive on a whole foods, plant-based diet
(9) What is as important as diet (10) Why your cells and your bones crave a challenge (11) Simple things you can do to prevent Alzheimer's (12) Breaking the stereotypes of aging
(13) The healing power of relationships--new evidence that stuns even the skeptics (14) Why loneliness will kill you faster than cigarettes (15) Today's choices for tomorrow's health
(16) The real news on this planet (17) Can this wisdom survive? (18) Finding the true fountain of youth
In conclusion, here is another quotation (author unknown) taken from the beginning of one of the chapters of this amazing book:
"Life is not measured in the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away."
In order to have these moments, I strongly recommend reading this life-changing book.
(first published 2006; introduction; 5 parts or 18 chapters; main narrative 310 pages; acknowledgements; resource guide; notes; index)
on January 11, 2007
John Robbins shares the simple truth in as profound and complete a manner as you will ever find it. The take-home message is significant--anyone can improve Quality of Life at any age by doing what cultures who tend to "live long and prosper" have always done! Eat low on the food chain, pay attention to loving relationships, and keep an outward focus on helping to make a better world.
In this breakthrough book, you will uplifting stories of real people who live in beautiful places in superb health to advanced old age and stay functional and joyous throughout life, free of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. If this is your intention, please read this book.
Here in the Northwest, we teach people how to thrive, saving money on food bills and eating incredibly gourment food. Healthy at 100 is the first book we are recommending to all our friends, family, and students who wish to know from the heart why it is worthwhile to take the actions to live a more nourishing life. Thank you, John Robbins, for a holistic, complete, inspiring and readable book! Put down all your other books on eating, lifestyle, and saving the planet, and read this one first. --Scott Parsons
on May 28, 2007
John Robbins, former heir to the Baskin Robbins fortune who chose a different path, has done it again. When I read his Diet for a New America shortly after its 1987 publication, I was bowled over by its revelations about the ecological ravages of meat and dairy based eating habits. With Healthy at 100, Robbins uses his gentle, persuasive voice to reveal another bombshell: the amount of love and social warmth in your life is as important to long-term health as are what you eat (the more plant-based the better), how much exercise you get (plenty throughout life is optimal), and whether or not you smoke (duh). Not that Robbins ignores these other factors--indeed, he synthesizes scientific findings with poignant stories into readable packets of wisdom that, if followed, can greatly improve your chances of one day being a centenarian.
The book's foundation is the lifestyles of four human populations renowned for their good health and longevity: the Abkhasians of southern Russia, the Vilcabambans of the Equadorian Andes, the Hunzas of northern Pakistan, and the Okinawans of southern Japan. In Part I, Robbins describes each of these cultures and the basis of their exceptional health and wellbeing, without romanticizing them, then proceeds to discuss the significance of diet to health. I reasonably enjoyed the book to this point, but it really got rolling for me in the latter half, when Robbins presents the case for life-long exercise and mental activity, then the importance of loving relationships. Some of the research he cites is astounding, such as a study of 125 undergraduates begun in the 1950s which concluded that, in Robbins's words, "having had a difficult relationship with one's parents is a greater risk factor for major adult disease than smoking, obesity, and high blood pressure combined" (p. 238). Readers might be jolted by such revelations, but knowledge is power, and Robbins lists numerous "steps one can take" to change course toward healthier life paths.
In the end this is a hopeful, fulfilling book. I consider it indispensable reading for anyone concerned with such minor trifles as improving one's health and that of our planet.
on February 3, 2007
This is a wonderfully inspirational book that shows how other cultures live healthy well into later life. It is motivating without being preachy. Not only does Robbins discuss healthy eating and exercise, but he goes into the psychological reasons people live longer, such as the importance of family and living in a culture that respects people as they age. I definitely recommend this book, as it is thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end.