Books

RECOMMENDED READING

  1. Bernstein, Richard K. Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution.  Bernstein is a “recovered” diabetic and an engineer-turned-physician who pioneered self-monitoring of blood glucose and soon learned that the standard ADA dietary device was mistaken.While nominally directed to diabetics, his book presents one of the most cogent cases I’ve seen for how anyone can reverse insulin resistance, normalize blood sugar, and improve their health using low carbohydrate diet and strenuous exercise.  He provides a great explanation of how exercise improves insulin sensitivity, why anaerobic weight-bearing exercise is superior to aerobics, and why the “inverted pyramid system” is the most efficient way to do weight training.
  2. Bethell, Tom.  The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science. Chapters 3 and 4 provide a good overview of  hormesis and its controversial challenge to the LNT (Linear No-Threshold) view of toxicology.  The discussion covers of hormetic effects of natural and man-made radiation, and chemical toxins such as dioxin, PCBs, mercury and — yes, alcohol.
  3. Daniels, Aubrey. Other People’s Habits: How to use Positive Reinforcement to Bring Out the Best in People Around You. One of the clearest and most practical explanations of the science of behaviorism, especially what makes reinforcement fail or succeed.  Many people think they know how to use positive reinforcement, but Daniels points out the pitfalls and common mistakes people make in this regard.
  4. Doidge, Norman. The Brain that Changes Itself. A remarkable compilation of case studies which illustrate the revolution in neuroplasticity, demonstrating how the brain can be trained to overcome handicaps involving motor function, balance, intelligence and even psychiatric disorders.
  5. Irvine, William B.,  A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy. A clear exposition of what the Stoics taught and how their teachings can be usefully adapted to overcoming adversity in modern life.
  6. Leonard, George. Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment.  This is a very succinct classic work applying the lessons of the martial arts to sustaining success and overcoming plateaus in any personal or organizational endeavor. Contrary to the advice of many to focus on goals, Leonard shows that too narrow a focus on goals can hurt motivation and decrease fulfillment. This book is discussed on this pageof the blog.
  7. Loehr, James E., Stress for Success: The Proven Program for Transforming Stress into Positive Energy at Work; and Loehr, Jim and Schwartz, Tony, The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal. Loehr coached elite athletes for years and developed a methodology of high intensity interval training, interspersed with rest and recovery to avoid overtraining and burnout.  In these books, the authors apply this framework to the mastering the challenges of everyday living faced by the “corporate athlete”.
  8. Pavlov, Ivan P.  Conditioned Reflexes.  This work compiles Pavlov’s 1924 lectures on his classic studies of conditioned responses of digestion in dogs. His experiments are brilliantly designed and his lectures reveal much more interesting detail than is found in short popular summaries. On every page there are ideas that we could all put to use in modifying our own psychology. It is amazing to me that the fields of weight loss and self-help have almost totally overlooked this book, which after all is about the psychology of digestion!
  9. Pryor, Karen. Don’t Shoot the Dog: The New Art of Teaching and Training. One of the clearest, most practical discussions of how to use reinforcement to shape behavior.  Despite the humorous title, and Pryor’s background as an animal behaviorist, most of this entertaining book is about changing human behavior — that of others and yourself. Chapter 4 on “Untraining: Using Reinforcement to Get Rid of Behavior You Don’t Want” is an excellent overview of extinction, counter-conditioning and related techniques for deconditioning.
  10. Reinert, Erik S.  How Rich Countries Got Rich…and Why Poor Countries Stay Poor. A close look at economic history reveals that the powerhouses of Renaissance Italy, nineteenth century America, and post-WWII Korea embraced protectionism before they opened up to free trade, providing an argument for economic strength by graduated exposure to competition.
  11. Taubes, Gary.  Good Calories, Bad Calories. In this brilliant re-appraisal of the scientific consensus on the role of diet in cardiovascular health and obesity, Taubes highlights the central role that hormones — most importantly insulin — play in weight control.  In the last chapter of the book on “Hunger and Satiety”, Taubes shows that hunger and appetite are largely under the control of insulin. This is a good basis for the Deconditioning Diet, in which insulin levels can be effectively controlled not just by what you eat, but by learning how to dampen your initial insulin response to hunger cravings.
  12. Velasquez-Manoff, Moises.  An Epidemic of Absence: A New Way of Understanding Allergies and Autoimmune Diseases.  An illuminating re-conceptualization of the nature evolution of asthma, allergies and autoimmune diseases.  Humans and other mammals co-evolved in close association with gut microflora, viruses and parasites.  In the course of time, these organisms have come to play an essential role in moderating the inflammatory side of our immune systems.  The author marshals powerful evidence to show how advances in sanitation and urban living have deprived us of these microbial services, leading to an explosion of allergic and autoimmune disease.

12 Comments

  1. Great List!

    I would also recommend Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (bit.ly/m0woFi). I know it’s not strictly Stoicism, but there is a lot of overlap.

    Also Freakonomics (http://amzn.to/kehgKG )
    and

    Super Freakonomics (http://amzn.to/j2vrKB )

    …provide great insight into a lot of interesting factor in modern day society that we normally wouldn’t think about.

    Reply
  2. To the web master,

    Have you considered teaching the True Bates Method?

    No offense;
    the anti-corrective, plus lens method has harmed a lot of peoples vision. The guys that sell it in books, courses; Otis Brown, David De, Angelis… are addictied to the lenses, Otis has developed cataract (maybe 2 x), has astigmatism and had lasik on his cornea, eyeglass prescirption inside his eyes lens and still advertises this harmfuul method, letting peopl ethink his clearer vision is from the method, not usually revealing his surgeries.

    You may refer people to the free books, magazines on my website if you like. They are the True Bates material and no Plus Lens websites allowed.

    Hope you will think about it.

    Mary

    Reply
    • Todd

      Mary,

      I’m sure that the Bates Method works for many people, particularly eye exercise techniques like “switching” from near to far and back on a frequent basis. But I myself found that the PROPER use of plus lenses was very helpful in reversing my own myopia. And many others on my site (and the Discussion Forum) have found the same.

      While it is perhaps possible to abuse plus lenses by wearing them all the time, when properly used as a periodic stimulus to changing the eye, there is no evidence that plus lenses are harmful. Where is your proof? Otis (who contributes here) is very clear that his cataracts were age-related and had nothing to do with plus lenses. Correlation is not causation! By what possible mechanism could plus lenses induce cataracts? Cataracts are a result of denaturation of the protein in the crystalline lens. This is a biological process. Please explain to me how focusing habits could possibly cause this.

      Bates deserves credit for inspiring people to question their need for glasses. But I find his writings to be scientifically lacking. On my blog, you’ll find that I back up my suggestions with reference to controlled clinical studies.

      Todd

      Reply
      • Hello Todd,

        Thanks for replying.

        You can rfead my paper on Plu Lens here; http://cleareyesight.info/id110.html
        A PDF is also at the bottom. I need to simplify it more but am busy helping many students this year but I will et to that so its easier to read.

        The reason there is no studies on the harm Plus Lens causes is because they are reading glasses, doctors prescribe them and if they speak out avbout the Plus Lens ehtod acausing harm; they will lose eyeglass sales. Thats why Otis and others advisign this method sneak by. Same thing happened to Dr. Bates his whole life; eye doctors sellling glasses, surgery Tried to bring teachers to court, stop them from teaching even though The Bates method works and is harmless. Is may be not helpful if the perosn has had lasik on th ecornea or a prescription placed in the eyes lens. See the pdf for explainnation. I dont hate Otis; I feel very sorry for what he has gone thorugh, I wish he never met that plus lens doctor in his twenties. If he had used the Bates Method he may have achieved clear sight and became a pilot back then.

        How can you believe his cataract is only from age? Please, plese study that PDF and avoid what has happen to him.

        I truly wish he would stop using and promoting the Plus Lens. As he will not, I will continue to tell the truth about it to my students so they dont fall into this harmful practice.

        Mary

        Reply
  3. Bill Rowles

    Consider adding “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living” Jeff Volek, Steve Phinney.

    Goes even further than Gary Taubes – these guys know their ketones, have all the answers, and have 30 years clinical experience of applying ketogenic regimens for patients with diabetes, CVD, obesity etc.

    A must read, IMO

    Reply
    • Todd

      Bill,

      You must have ESP…I just finished reading the other Volek and Phinney book regarding keto-adaptation for improved athletic performance. The improvements they were able to achieve in fat oxidation rates and endurance are awesome. I’ll have more to say about it at some point.

      Todd

      Reply
  4. haig

    While ‘The Politically Incorrect Guide To Science’ may have some good explanations on hormesis, I’d like to know your opinion of the rest of it, particularly regarding climate change skepticism and intelligent design. I’d like to think I am open minded enough that I can find interesting ideas in even the most off-putting of places, but that book left a bad taste in my mouth.

    Reply
    • Todd

      Haig,

      In his chapter on “Good Chemistry”, Bethell lays out the research that Calabrese and others conducted that provide strong support for the hormetic effects of chemicals and radiation — facts that are inconvenient and “politically incorrect”. As far as the other chapters go, I agree with some of them but not others. I believe his case against Darwinian evolution is particularly weak. But count me as a skeptic when it comes to the thesis that global warming is mostly man-made. The predictions for the extent of warming been wrong (the peak year for global temperatures was 1998, and we are in a flat or cooling trend). More importantly, the connection between CO2 and warming (highlighted in Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth”) has the causality reversed — warming PRECEDES rather than FOLLOWS carbon dioxide levels, and it has been shown that the oceans play the role of a buffer in this respect. The real driver appears to be the sun — not through its direct effects, but rather the indirect effects of solar influence on cosmic rays and cloud generation, as shown by scientists like Svensmark and Shaviv, and recently supported by cloud chamber experiments performed at CERN

      http://home.web.cern.ch/about/experiments/cloud

      For a layman’s account, check out this YouTube video:

      http://home.web.cern.ch/about/experiments/cloud

      Detailed evidence is laid out in The Chilling Stars, by Nigel Calder.

      I actively seek out alternate explanations for scientific phenomena, wherever they may come from, across the “ideological spectrum”. The more you dig, the more disappointed you become with the holes and gaps in many mainstream theories. I saw this first in areas of science I had the most familiarity with. It soon extended to the mainstream lipid-heart hypothesis, obesity, allergic and autoimmune disease, and other aspects of health and disease. Today’s science is so narrow and specialized that it misses entirely how biology and evolution really work — how we adapt. Similarly, today’s climate science is extremely myopic, focuses on very recent and local events, while missing more important variables that have driven climate for millenia.

      Todd

      Reply
      • haig

        Climate science is not my specialty, to make an understatement, as I barely have read into the relevant literature, but I’ve tended to rely on scientific consensus for the most part. From what I gather, ‘global warming’ is a bad label compared with climate change, as it is not as simple as increasing C02 == increasing global temperatures, but that anthropogenic activities are changing critical features of the planet, specifically ocean currents, that make the climate more volatile.

        However, my faith in scientific consensus did take a big hit when digging deeper into diet and health, as I was incredibly disillusioned with what passed for nutrition science, the lipid-heart hypothesis being particularly eye opening. I was left wondering how they could get it so wrong, but I’ve realized that reductionist methods in science are very brittle when it comes to complex adaptive systems, and research areas that focus on these systems, like climate science, medicine/biology, and economics/social science need to undergo significant changes in the way they go about understanding the relevant phenomena. These scientists need to get over their physics envy and embrace complexity if we are to make any progress. It has been said that the 20th century was the century of physics and that the 21st century will be the century of biology, but I think that a better way to look at it is that the first 400 years of science has been the era of reductionism, and the next era will be the era of complexity.

        Reply
        • Todd

          Good comments, Haig, especially about the shift from reductionism to the science of complexity. One of my favorite books on that topic was Micheal Waldrop’s 1993 work, “Complexity: The Emerging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos” — still provocative even 20 years after it was first published.

          Reply
  5. Peter Davis

    “Bernstein is a “recovered” diabetic and an engineer-turned-physician who pioneered self-monitoring of blood glucose and soon learned that the standard ADA dietary device was mistaken. While nominally directed to diabetics, his book presents one of the most cogent cases I’ve seen for how anyone can reverse insulin resistance, normalize blood sugar, and improve their health using low carbohydrate diet and strenuous exercise. He provides a great explanation of how exercise improves insulin sensitivity, why anaerobic weight-bearing exercise is superior to aerobics, and why the “inverted pyramid system” is the most efficient way to do weight training.”

    Are you guys even serious?

    Low carb has nothing to do with it. Except that low carbers have higher fasting insulin. Anaerobic exercise mostly if not only helps with local insulin sensitivity. The standard dietary advice given by doctors is good and WORKS. The problem is most people do not, and/or can not follow it. Not because it’s harder than any other diet, but because most people do no/can not follow a diet where they can not eat whatever they want. The advice given in this book will work, but not even as good as the standard advice if it was followed through with, and it’s misleading. Your wording also makes it sound like reversing insulin resistance is not normally achievable. It’s setting up a sneaky straw man for people who don’t understand fallacious arguments.

    Gary Taubes book Good Calories, Bad Calories is the most grand pseudo scientific book I’ve ever read. He’s not even a science Journalist. He seems to have lots of skills in cherry picking and misrepresenting what results mean (I think due to his lack of understanding of science and ignorance more than on purpose).
    Does anyone who reads his nonsense not understand protein spikes you’re insulin? I wouldn’t understand how people can have such a cognitive dissonant belief if I hadn’t studied so much critical thinking.

    “However, my faith in scientific consensus did take a big hit when digging deeper into diet and health, as I was incredibly disillusioned with what passed for nutrition science, the lipid-heart hypothesis being particularly eye opening. I was left wondering how they could get it so wrong, but I’ve realized that reductionist methods in science are very brittle when it comes to complex adaptive systems, and research areas that focus on these systems, like climate science, medicine/biology, and economics/social science need to undergo significant changes in the way they go about understanding the relevant phenomena.”

    You need to actually dig deeper and stop using rationalizations to make yourself feel better.

    Reply
    • Todd

      Peter,

      Putting down my views as unserious or “rationalizations to make yourself feel better” is probably not the best way to make your point and elicit a courteous response from a blogger. Nevertheless, I’ll attempt to respond respectfully.

      I’m quite aware that Taubes makes some errors in his analysis, but his larger message is correct. Fuel partitioning and fat accumulation are not a simple matter of caloric imbalance, but are signficantly influenced by hormones, and food macronutrients do influence the actions of hormones like insulin and leptin. Taubes and other low carb advocates like Ron Rosedale do acknowlege the insulin-stimulating effect of protein. In fact Rosedale was one of the first to advocate a diet not just low in carbohydrate but also moderate in protein.

      People like chicken-and-egg arguments about whether excess carb and protein consumption leads to insulin resistance and obesity, or whether the causality runs in the other direction. Personally, I think the causality might run in both directions, and I’ve suggested that in either case the mechanism works via hypothalamic insulin or leptin resistance. See my posts “Does insulin make you fat?” and “Obesity starts in the brain” for my views. You’ll see that I am far from full agreement with Taubes. Nevertheless, he did a service by shaking the trees. People focus on his insulin story, but they overlook the excellent critique of the cholesterol/lipid theory of cardiovascular disease in the first part of his book.

      You are right that standard dietary advice typically fails because most people cannot follow it. That’s because it ignores the effects of food on appetite. Eating a generally low insulinogenic diet helps curb appetite and naturally reduces intake. By “low insulinogenic” I mean moderate or low in protein, not just carbs. And intermittent fasting, or at least cutting out snacks, helps too. As my Diet page also details, there are psychological factors that can stimulate or reduce appetite by moderating preprandial hormones — not just insulin, but gherkin and other signals. It’s also apparent that excess carbs and protein are not the only culprits — it is increasingly evident that excessive levels of omega 6 PUFAs, and an omega 6/omega 3 imbalance, may be a key factor. The recent book “Why Women Need Fat” provides epidemiological, evolutionary and physiological evidence in support of this.

      You claim that low carb raises fasting insulin. That’s not my personal experience. My pre-low carb fasting insulin was 10, but dropped to 4 uIU/ml after reducing carbs and meal frequency.

      Bernstein is also solid in his advice to use weight lifting and high intensity exercise to build muscle mass and improve insulin sensitivity. This is one of the most effective things diabetics can do to reduce their dependence on insulin injections. I also posted a link to the website of Lee Shurie, who significantly lowered his basal insulin levels and reversed his diabetes using intermittent fasting and exercise:
      http://shurie.com/lee/writing_defeat_diabetes.htm

      You say that my writing suggests insulin resistance is not normally reversible. I have no idea where you got that idea, because my experience and my blog scream loudly that it is most definitely reversible.

      You probably have an excellent background in science and are a well-read fellow. I’d love to get your ideas on what factors are most responsible for the epidemic in obesity and hyperinsulinemia, and how we can best reverse those trends. If you read my blog in some depth you’ll see that I’m not on anyone’s bandwagon, but I try to integrate key pieces of evidence from multiple sources — often from people who disagree with each other in key respects. So I’m open to any good ideas that you have, particularly if you can provide references to back them up.

      Todd

      Reply

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