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Why isn't this a bestseller? (review by former scientist)
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.