Books to Boost Your Health in 2016

Eight good reads that can improve body and mind

by Amy Erickson | Updated 28 Dec 2015 at 9:50 AM

Winter is a fantastic time to curl up with a good book. If you’re reading the actual hardcover or paperback, you can enjoy the gritty feel of the paper beneath your fingertips and experience the smell, the feel, the weight of the book. Or, if you’re reading on your tablet or phone, you know you can carry your book anywhere.

No matter the format of your book, there’s nothing quite like getting lost in a good read.

Aside from ingesting information or entertainment, reading is a healthy activity. Countless studies show that regular reading can give your brain a workout, help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, improve concentrations skills, inspire creativity, increase your capacity for empathy, and help you relax.

A few recommended reads for better health and well-being, according to a new list just out from Barnes and Noble, include:

  • “The Shred Power Cleanse: Eat Clean. Get Lean. Burn Fat” by Ian K. Smith
  • “The Prime: Prepare and Repair Your Body for Spontaneous Weight Loss” by Kulreet Chaudhry
  • “The Doctor’s Diet: Dr. Travis Stork’s STAT Program to Help You Lose Weight & Restore Health” by Travis Stork

And here are five of our own recommendations for good health as we head into a new year:

“Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain for Life” by Dr. David Perlmutter
This is a fascinating read, particularly since someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s every 67 seconds, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Dr. David Perlmutter, the bestselling author of “Grain Brain,” describes how intestinal microbes can become “sick” over time, and how nurturing gut health can alter your brain’s destiny. So the healthier your gut, the better your long-term brain health. The book offers dietary recommendations along with an easy six-step program to improve what the author calls your “microbiome.”

“The Happiness Track: How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success” by Emma Seppälä
What if success does not, in fact, lead to happiness? What if it’s the other way around? If you’re feeling overworked or dissatisfied with your life, this book may be what you need.

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“Backed by extensive research in psychology and neuroscience, ‘The Happiness Track’ offers a wealth of insight for changing how we approach our work, our personal lives, and our relationships. It’s a carefully researched, engaging look at how to improve ourselves without losing our authenticity or our sanity,” said Adam Grant, Wharton professor and bestselling author of “Give and Take.”

“Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and Disease” by Dr. Robert Lustig
The Cleveland Clinic says the average American consumes 152 pounds of sugar per year. That is nearly half a pound of sugar per day. Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco, started this dialogue with his You Tube video lecture entitled “Sugar: The Bitter Truth.” The video went viral and offers 90 minutes of accessible information. His more recent video series, “The Skinny on Obesity,” is equally fascinating and accessible.

Dr. Mark Hyman, author of “The Blood Sugar Solution,” said that “’Fat Chance’ is THE manifesto for our time. It reveals the real reasons why we are a fat nation and how to cure the obesity epidemic. It gets right to the root of the problem, which is not gluttony and sloth, as the food industry, government and your neighbor would have you believe. It is because we are drowning in a sea of sugar, which poisons our metabolism, shrinks our brains, and threatens our national security and global competitiveness.”

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“Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain” by Dr. John Ratey
The dumb jock stereotype is long gone. The author, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the author of numerous groundbreaking books including “Driven to Distraction” and “A User’s Guide to the Brain,” shares the importance of exercise on brain development, health and intellectual capacity.

Many educators have implemented activity-based educational strategies inspired by the author, and given the epidemic of childhood obesity, this is a must-read for any parent. If you are neither a parent nor an educator, then read the book for tips on how daily activity can stave off Alzheimer’s or dementia.

“When the Body Says No: Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection” by Gabor Mate
In a recent interview, the author discussed the overmedication of adolescents (nearly 50 percent in the U.S.) and the lack of time, focus and attention in their lives. This book discusses the damage stress can do to the body and examines multiple individuals whose bodies did finally say “No!” The notion of our physical and physiological boundaries being crossed so frequently in today’s world will make you reconsider vital ways to protect yourself and your health.

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