Book Review: Dr. M’s Seven-X Plan for Digestive Health, Anil Minocha (2014)

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

An IBS Sufferer’s Perspective

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic copy of this book for review through Library Thing’s Member Giveaway program.)

As a longtime sufferer of IBS (or at least I think so; diagnosis is mostly by process of elimination), I eagerly snatched up a copy of Anil Minocha’s Dr. M’s Seven-X Plan for Digestive Health when it was offered for review through Library Thing. Initially, I expected to jump straight to the chapter on IBS and skim through a few of the other sections at best. Instead, I found myself reading it nearly cover to cover (minus the chapters on problems and diseases not specific to me, of course).

The book – which weighs in at an impressive 506 pages (estimated) and 56 chapters – begins with a lengthy discussion of the digestive system, as well as various factors that affect its performance: diet, stress, bacterial imbalance, inflammation, porousness (i.e., “leaky” gut), etc., before even getting to various problems and disorders: belching, bloating and indigestion, morning sickness and nausea, intestinal gas, hemorrhoids and anal fissures, gastroparesis, ulcers, IBS, constipation, ulcerative colitis, and Chrohn’s disease. The result is a rather comprehensive introduction to the gut, and the many troubles that can plague it.

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bran flakes with dried cranberries > bran flakes with raisins

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Suck it, Raisin Bran!

2012-06-06 - Bran Flakes with Cranberries - 0001

Show me someone who doesn’t love cranberries, and I’ll show you someone who’s never suffered the indignities of a urinary tract infection. You and cranberries become BFFs from that day forward.

Enjoying this bowl out on the patio, whilst watching some crappy ’90s tv on Netflix, ’cause that’s how I roll.

Book Review: The Neck Pain Handbook, Grant Cooper & Alex Visco (2009)

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Neck Pain 101

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program.)

I received an advance review copy of THE NECK PAIN HANDBOOK through Library Thing’s Early Reviewer program. At thirty years of age, I’ve suffered from mild to moderate neck and back pain for about ten years. I attribute the pain to a number of causes, including PMS, long hours spent working in front of the computer, poor posture, stress, and less-than-optimal sleeping conditions. (I’m a guardian to five dogs, three of which like to hem me in under the covers at night. Consequently, my back pain is usually at its worst during the first hour of my day.) Exercise, especially yoga, has helped some, but neck, shoulder and back pain is still an occasional inconvenience. Thus, I was hoping that MDs Grant Cooper and Alex Visco might be able to offer some additional advice for alleviating my neck pain symptoms.

THE NECK PAIN HANDBOOK is a nice introduction to the topic of neck pain. Cooper and Visco begin the discussion by outlining the structure and function of the human neck, so that the reader might gain an appreciation of her neck’s complex makeup. They then shift focus to the many causes of neck pain, some of which are preventable. They discuss proper posture, and offer ten at-home exercises the reader can employ in order to prevent and/or alleviate neck pain. The authors also discuss more radical treatments for neck pain, including cervical collars (of which they are not big fans), advanced imaging studies, trigger point injections, Botox, topical pain relievers, analgesics, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, x-ray guided injections and surgery. They also briefly touch upon “alternative” treatments, such as glucosamine/chondroitin supplements (which I give to my two oldest furkids in order to ward off joint paint – a precaution actually recommended by my conservative, small town veterinarian), SAM-E, acupuncture and meditation. While this last batch of remedies might seem like quackery, the doctors are quick to caution that such treatments are experimental, unproven, a last resort and should not be employed unless under the supervision of a trained medical professional.

While THE NECK PAIN HANDBOOK is a quick, easy and informative read, I was hoping for more do-it-yourself advice. For example, the authors describe the ten exercises presented in THE NECK PAIN HANDBOOK as “an excellent starting point” – which makes me believe there are additional exercises they could have included, but chose not to. Which is annoying, as they also say that about 80% of neck pain can be attributed to poor posture and weak neck musculature. While the exercises presented are straightforward and relatively easy to understand, not all of them are new to me; indeed, I’ve already been performing a few for back strength and flexibility. Also, in addition to mentioning meditation for neck pain, the authors might have included a brief section on yoga, which has proven immensely helpful to me.

Other than these two small drawbacks, THE NECK PAIN HANDBOOK is a nice overview of neck pain, particularly for those who are just beginning to research the topic.

(This review was originally published on Amazon and Library Thing, and is also available on Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)

Listen to your gut, veg*n! (Yet another book review.)

Monday, February 25th, 2008

Theresa Cheung’s THE IBS HEALING PLAN: NATURAL WAYS TO BEAT YOUR SYMPTOMS isn’t explicitly a veg*n book; in fact, the author only discusses the benefits of a vegetarian diet in treating IBS for two short paragraphs (that’s half a page, for you bean counters). Even so, I thought I might post the review here, since I was already writing one for Library Thing and all. Besides, animal rights activists are more likely than not to be female, as are IBS sufferers, and a diet plays a key role in each. So I’m sure there’s some crossover there, is what I’m saying.

Since I reviewed an advance copy of the book, I haven’t yet been able to post my review to Amazon, so sorry but no permalink. Try checking back on or after April 28, 2008 – or, if you’ve got a Library Thing account, go give me some props there.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for my hourly fiber fix. Ahem.

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DawnWatch: NY Times reprimanded by its public editor for "Death By Veganism" piece. 6/24/07

Sunday, June 24th, 2007

Working title: Nina Planck, spanked.

Photo via Art Freak

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: Jun 24, 2007 7:53 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: NY Times reprimanded by its public editor for “Death By Veganism” piece. 6/24/07

All those who wrote to the New York Times protesting Nina Planck’s “Death by Veganism” op-ed (you’ll find the DawnWatch alert about it at http://tinyurl.com/2b3sp5) can give yourselves a big pat on the back. Your outcry was registered.

The New York Time’s current public editor is Clark Hoyt. The Times tells us, “Clark Hoyt is the readers’ representative. His opinions and conclusions are his own. His column will appear on Sundays at least twice monthly.”

According to Wikipedia, the New York Times established the position of Public Editor in response to the 2003 Jayson Blair scandal. Wikipedia explains “The job of the public editor is to supervise the implementation of proper journalism ethics at a newspaper, and to identify and examine critical errors or omissions, and to act as a liaison to the public. They do this primarily through a regular feature on a newspaper’s editorial page.”

The public editor’s column in the Sunday, June 24, New York Times is headed, “The Danger of the One-Sided Debate.” (Page WK14)

Hoyt tells us that two recent columns by guest contributors caused enormous reader outcries. The most recent was by Ahmed Yousef, a spokesman for Hamas. Hoyt quotes a reader, who wrote that such a piece ”isn’t balanced journalism, it is more the dissemination of propaganda in the spirit of advocacy journalism.” While Hoyt did not agree with Yousef’s piece, he does contend:

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DawnWatch: Veggie cooking demo, reversing diabetes lecture — Phoenix and elsewhere 2/1/07…..

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: Feb 1, 2007 1:06 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: Veggie cooking demo, reversing diabetes lecture — Phoenix and elsewhere 2/1/07…..

Dr Neal Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is on a book tour promoting his new book, “Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes.” He is currently in Arizona.

This morning, Thursday February 1, the Phoenix show Sonora Living, on ABC 15, included a cooking demonstration by chef Jason Wyrick, executive chef of the Vegan Culinary Experience. Wyrick was diagnosed before age 30 with diabetes and reversed it with a healthy vegan diet. He cooks a 20 Minute Black Bean Chipotle Chili. You can watch the demonstration on the show’s website at http://www.sonoranliving.com. It starts at about fifteen minutes past the hour.

Please take just a moment to thank the show and let them know you would love to see more veggie cooking demos. You can email them at sonoranliving [at] abc15.com.

Feedback matters!

The show also publicizes a lecture by Dr Barnard on how diet can offer dramatic improvements for those Americans living with diabetes.

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DawnWatch LA: Vegan diet control of diabetes in LA Times — 7/31/06

Tuesday, August 1st, 2006

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: Jul 31, 2006 4:38 PM
Subject: DawnWatch LA: Vegan diet control of diabetes in LA Times 7/31/06

Angelenos:

Sally Squire’s article on vegan diets controlling diabetes (from last week’s Washington Post) is in the Monday, July 31, Los Angeles Times (see below). It offers a great opportunity for those who enjoy a plant-based diet to sing its praises. The Los Angeles Times takes letters at letters [at] latimes.com

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DawnWatch: Washington Post on vegan diets and diabetes — 7/25/06

Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

(Crossposted on Hell Food.)

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: Jul 25, 2006 4:33 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: Washington Post on vegan diets and diabetes 7/25/06

The Tuesday, July 25, Washington Post, has an interesting article on the cover of the Health section (Pg F01) by Sally Squires, headed, “‘Good’ Carbs To the Rescue.”

It opens:

“People with Type 2 diabetes are advised to limit carbohydrates because of worries that too many carbs could overtax the body’s dwindling insulin production and lessen its ability to process glucose.

“Now some scientists are asking if a very-low-fat diet rich in healthy carbohydrates — whole grains, beans, fruit and vegetables — might be another option.

“The idea borrows a lesson from the heart disease field, which has shown that very strict vegetarian diets quite low in fat and very high in carbohydrates can help reverse arterial blockages.”

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Book Review: Breaking Out: A Woman’s Guide to Coping with Acne at Any Age, Lydia Preston (2004)

Friday, June 24th, 2005

Comprehensive Guide to Acne Treatments

five out of five stars

As a teenager, I was plagued with the occasional flaming red pimple. Although my skin was usually clear, I didn’t fully appreciate this until my mid-20s, when – to my surprise – I started to have more frequent and severe flare-ups. Like many people, I assumed that acne was a “teenager’s problem,” so I was both puzzled and frustrated when my acne only worsened with age – despite the inordinate amount of time I devoted to skin care.

Over the previous six months, the situation has become intolerable. Now approaching 30, the periods of flare-ups far outnumber clear days. Objectively, I know that I don’t have it “that bad,” but it’s bothersome nonetheless. I decided to take action and map out a plan of over-the-counter treatments before turning to a dermatologist for help (a last step for me, since, in my experience, dermatologists seem to overcharge and under-deliver!). At first, I tried to locate advice on the Internet. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a site with comprehensive and consistent information; for example, home remedies ran the gamut, from lemon peels to shaving cream to tumeric. There are literally as many “folk remedies” as there are acne sufferers!

Rather than try to sort through this information overload, I instead turned to my local library. The most recent book on acne treatments they owned was “Breaking Out,” so I checked it out right away.

I have to say, I think I hit the jackpot the first time around! “Breaking Out” is a comprehensive guide to acne treatments. Preston covers all the bases; she discusses acne myths and truths; OTC treatments that work (as well as those that don’t); various prescription remedies; and even more drastic therapies, such as Accutane and hormones. A longtime acne sufferer herself, she’s definitely done her research – and she also addresses her audience with empathy. She features interviews with a number of prominent researchers in the field, but the discussion is never dry or boring. Rather, she manages to break down the science behind acne causes and treatments so that it’s easily comprehensible to laypeople.

After reading “Breaking Out,” I drew up a plan to deal with my acne: a facial wash containing 2% salicylic acid (twice a day), together with a 10% benzoyl peroxide cream (again, twice a day), and an oil-free moisturizer with sunblock (as needed). When I went to my local grocery store, book in hand, I was able to tackle the five mini-aisles of cosmetics with ease: I knew exactly what I wanted, and what products/ingredients I should avoid. Although it’s only been a few weeks, it already seems like I’m getting fewer pimples (though I suppose it could just be my imagination!). Best yet, I feel confident, empowered to solve the problem, as opposed to sitting back and passively accepting the advice of clueless dermatologists.

Even though the guide is directed at women, men might find it helpful as well – particularly the chapters on various treatment options. I’d also recommend the book to men whose partners are afflicted with acne. Preston addresses the emotional aspects of acne, and her advice to women might help men understand how acne affects the emotional health and well-being of their partners.

(This review was originally published on Amazon and Library Thing, and is also available on Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you think it so!)