Dr. Taylor’s 5 Favorite Health Books in 2018

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This podcast was inspired when I was looking through some of the books I’ve read or listened to this year and I thought “Wow, I’ve read some REALLY good books this year that can really help a lot of people!” So, this podcast episode is just me talking about each of these five books, the theme of each book, and what value you can gain and what you can learn from each one.

 

#1 - The Hacking of the American Mind by Dr. Robert Lustig

Dr. Lustig is a pediatric endocrinologist who has studied and written on the effects of sugar in our kids, who turned his research from our addiction to sugar to our addiction to our handheld devices, social media, and the world of addictions. Dr. Lustig goes into detail in the book about seven differences between “Happiness” and “Pleasure”, and how often people think they are getting “happiness” but they are really getting little “hits” of “pleasure hormones” in the same way a junkie gets a “hit” when they need a “fix”, and over time these pathways develop resistance and it leads to mental problems. All of this revolves around our neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, and Dr. Lustig goes into precise detail about each of the different neurotransmitter pathways, how these responses function, and how our addiction to our devices and other “hits” today is directly leading to more anxiety, depression, suicide - - and as an attorney he also discusses how companies know that they are addicting our kids to their products and are doing it deliberately.

 

#2 - HeadStrong by Dave Asprey

Dave Asprey is the founder of Bulletproof and the host of Bulletproof Radio, the #1 health podcast on iTunes and I love his content. This book is specifically written to help you maximize your brainpower by maximizing your mitochondrial function. Mitochondria produce all of your body’s energy, and your brain uses a LOT of energy, and when it’s low on energy you get fatigue, brain fog, you don’t think as quick. The book includes hacks (Dave Asprey is known for coining the term biohacking) of how to improve your mitochondria, and goes beyond diet into meditation, light exposure, neurofeedback, and even smart drugs to give your brain more energy. This book is fantastic, but I also suggest checking out our podcast episode Being Healthy on a Cellular Level to learn more about mitochondria and what they do, how they work, and how you can support them.

 

#3 - Dirty Genes by Dr. Ben Lynch

Genetics is a very interesting topic. We know that we each have certain genes that give us darker skin, blue eyes, make us taller or shorter, and we also all have genes for things like cancer, Alzheimer's, or heart disease. While the science of epigenetics has taught us that it’s more about the environment than your genetics, it is absolutely true that we all have good genes and bad genes, and some of those good and bad genes can be triggered by your environment - stress, diet, toxins, inflammation, etc. Dr. Ben Lynch is one of the world’s leaders in the study of epigenetics and the process of methylation, which is largely controlled by a gene that is commonly mutated - the MTHFR gene. This book goes into some of the most common Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs), or genetic mutations, that people have today, including MTHFR (folate metabolism), COMT (dopamine and epinephrine metabolism), and many others. He does a good job teaching how you can interpret your genetic testing, what the major genes are that you should look out for, what pathways they control, but most importantly he stays focused on the fact that whether you have these genes or don’t, your environment is going to be what triggers those genes, so you have to control your environment as a first priority.

 

#4 - Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker PhD

This book is a little scary because it talks about how horrible it is for your health to miss out on any sleep, but it’s great because as you read it you realize that sleep needs to be a high priority. I always talk about how before I had kids I didn’t care as much about sleep, now I treat it like gold. As a doctor, virtually every single patient I have has poor sleep and it’s affecting their health on every level. I mention in the podcast that this book was recommended to me by a patient who is a firefighter because they have been reading the book at his Fire Station and discussing how they can mitigate the harms of working 48 hour shifts. The book gives a very detailed look at each stage of sleep, what happens, why that’s important, what can interfere with sleep, and more. The bottom line takeaway is that sleep is REALLY important, but reading the book is really eye opening about why it’s so important.

 

#5 - The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz

This is one of my favorite books ever. Nina Teicholz was a 20+ year vegetarian who began looking into the dietary recommendations we have all adopted for the past 50 years - don’t eat a lot of saturated fat, eat 6-10 servings of grains daily, use margarine instead of butter, etc. These guidelines have been adopted around the world and have led to the removal of animal fats, the introduction of vegetable oils, the subsidization of corn and soy which are now found in everything, and our processed food diet. What she found was shocking - that these dietary recommendations are not (and never were) backed by any good studies or science, and the guidelines that America has established and the World has followed have actually increased our rates of some of our biggest diseases like heart disease and diabetes. This book is so scientifically evidence-based that The Lancet and The British Medical Journal, two of the world’s most prestigious medical journals, have published reviews of the book, and Nina is now working with Washington to change the dietary guidelines and make sure that the recommendations we are giving our country and the world are the best and most scientifically-supported recommendations.