25/02/2008

Super Lifespan, Super Health (by the editors of Frank Cawood and Associates)

I have no clue who Frank W Cawood and Associates might be - but they're apparently the longer name for FC & A, whose editors produced this book. It's not a volume that would normally appeal to me - the cover design is old-fashioned and remarkably ugly - it looks like the worst of 1990s bad design, made even less appealing due to the hints on the front and back covers ("Halt premature aging with this potent, nutrient-rich herbal wonder" etc) which I suppose were intended to attract readers. Unfortunately the result is to make it sound rather artificial.

In a regular shop, at whatever the usual price is, I probably wouldn't have given "Super Lifespan Super Health" a second glance. But I came across it in 2003 when the MV Doulos came to Cyprus. There was a huge bin full of these hardback books, selling for 50c each. I have always been keen on health/nutrition books, so after much debate (that cover really is bad!) I decided to buy it.

I dipped into it for a week or two, and decided it didn't really say much that was new. But it was still interesting, and every so often I dipped some more. The focus is particularly on good health for older people, and increased longevity based on nutrition and lifestyle.

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I decided I'd read it from start to finish, a chapter or two each day.

I found it very interesting. It was actually much better written than the cover would suggest, based on considerable research but clearly presented. The first section of the book, after some general introductory chapters, is about nutrition - both foods and minerals - and how they can aid in extended lifespan and better health when aging.

Each chapter on topics such as ginger, garlic, magnesium, yogurt or Vitamin C gives anecdotal and research-based suggestions, explains how best to get sufficient of the food in question, and any contra-indications. Much of it was familiar to me, other parts were reminders, or new. As I get older myself, it's good to be reminded of positive ways to enhance healthy living.

The middle section is on what the book calls 'super health secrets' - chapters on echinacea, coenzyme Q10, melatonin, and so on. Pros and cons are given for various supplements for middle-aged and older people. The only thing I was less than impressed with was a mostly positive recommendations for HRT (hormone replacement therapy), but perhaps, being over ten years old, ideas have changed.

The final section of the book is about general lifestyle - exercise, sleep, and so on.

Having finished it, there wasn't anything dramatically new that I will be altering in my own diet or life, but I certainly felt inspired anew to continue eating mostly healthy food, and taking the supplements I had already worked out were best for me.

Definitely recommended - particularly for anyone in middle age or older who is having any problems with their health, or who has a family history of heart disease or similar.

It doesn't seem to be in print any more - but both Amazon UK and Amazon US have second-hand copies, and I believe the Doulos still has a box full of this book!

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