By Jonathan Lowe
audio book reviewer
“In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto” by Michael Pollan poses the argument that we’re getting fatter and more unhealthy every year because big food processors make more profit selling grains than leaves. That is, whole foods spoil easily, while denatured and milled grains have a long shelf life, and can be transported long distances easier.
The most profitable grains are corn and soybeans, which has led to the near extinction of many more nutrient-dense crops.
Because the most healthy parts of grains spoil fastest, these are milled out, leaving a bleached “fake” food behind, which is then “enriched” with a chemical spray and “preserved” with other potentially hazardous chemicals.
Particularly disturbing is the rise in consumption of high fructose corn syrup, present in most nondiet sodas and juices, and many cookies, cakes, snacks and most canned and boxed foods. This cheap sweetener is as difficult to digest as trans fats.
Empty calories and added sugars lead to a host of diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Americans may save on food costs by not buying whole foods, but that economy will translate into their spending far more on drugs and health care in the future.
Narrated dramatically by Scott Brick, the audio book dispenses sound advice, including limiting your purchases to those items near the walls of supermarkets because highly processed “fake” foods tend to line the center aisles. (Penguin Audio; 6 ½ hours unabridged)
In “The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want,” author Sonja Lyubomirsky reveals evidence that happiness is 60 percent a matter of genetic predisposition and 40 percent a conditioned response.
No doubt you’ve met people who are happy by nature and who therefore possess a natural cushion against the crises in their lives.
For the rest of us, achieving true happiness is sometimes a struggle. One of the ways, surprisingly, is simply to smile, even when things may be going wrong. Studies have shown that moods become elevated just by mimicking happy people or pretending to be happy.
Read by the author, the audio book offers case studies, which demonstrate that money, love, fame and outward success have little to do with happiness. Happiness is more about an outlook and state of mind. Feeling alive and making life an adventure is far more important than driving a new Mercedes or having a big bank account. (Penguin Audio; 6 hours abridged)
Longevity science is the subject of “You: Staying Young – The Owner’s Manual for Extending Your Warranty” by Dr. Michael F. Roizen and Dr. Mehmet C. Oz, who incidentally is Oprah’s doctor.
This interesting examination of what causes aging and how to slow the process allows us to see deeper into the science of aging. Most people already know about some risk factors: smoking, processed foods, saturated fat, sedentary lifestyles, etc. But did you know that sunburn triggers the stem cells grown in your bones to migrate to the burn to repair it? If you burn often, the odds for a genetic mistake increase, which could result in cancer.
Avoiding stress, both internal and external, is most important in minimizing the biological processes that propel the body graveward. Tension and toxins have a direct effect on the cells. Think of tension as anger, frustration, worry and regret, and toxins as tail pipe exhaust, loud noises, and even those greasy, salty french fries you just ate.
You can start to reverse the aging process, say the authors, not by popping a vitamin pill, but by thinking about what you’re doing. (Simon & Schuster Audio; 5 hours abridged)
These audio books are ranked on a system of one to five stars, with five stars being the highest possible endorsement. They can be rented from AudioAdventures.com. Jonathan Lowe is the audio book reviewer for myshelf.com. His e-book of stories, “Ghost Rider,” is available for free download online at fictionwise.com.